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The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sequel deals with a family trying to survive after a natural disaster. It is a grim and, at times, rather gruesome book, with many deaths, including some major characters, and details about decomposing and rat-eaten bodies. This book will be terrifying to some kids, especially those without the experience to put it in context. Readers on the younger end of the spectrum may want to know more about their own family's readiness for disaster, and about the likelihood of these types of events occurring. Those mature enough to handle the content will find plenty to discuss, and main characters who work hard to protect and care for one another.
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What's the story?
In Life as We Knew It, the moon was pushed closer to the earth by a meteor, causing complete disruption to Earth's tides, weather, and infrastructure. This sequel covers the same events from the point of view of three Puerto Rican teens living in New York City, who must survive after their parents disappear and are presumed dead, and lawlessness and disease sweep the darkened, isolated city.
Is it any good?
Profoundly disturbing, this book will make many readers want to put it down -- but the relentless story won't let them.
This is not really a sequel, but a stand-alone book covering the same worldwide events from a different point of view than the white, suburban family in Life as We Knew It. This one involves three working-class Puerto Rican teen siblings in Manhattan, whose parents disappear on the first day of the disaster. This change introduces both a grittier level of grimness (the first book didn't have rat-eaten bodies rotting in the streets or stadiums full of naked corpses) and some new issues, such as class differences, and the place of faith and the church community in the face of overwhelming disaster.
Like the first book, though, big, discussion-worthy themes of response to climate change, the collapse of the energy infrastructure, and the role of the individual within the community are carried by a taut, suspenseful, and realistic story of individual and family survival. This, of course, makes it ideal for middle and high school discussion groups.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about their own disaster plans, and what could be done to make them feel more ready. Also, what is the likelihood of these types of events taking place?
Another discussion idea: This is a fantasy novel about a possible future scenario. What other stories about the future have you read? What can be gained by reading stories that take place in a distant (or not so distant) time?
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