Rising action: When the story is building up for

Life as We Knew It
Review By: Alex Jones
Picture found from:
Rising action: When the story is building up for the
best moment.
• Miranda is worried about her grades, skating lessons, her mother
worrying more about what Jonny wants to do than what she wants
to do, etcetera, etcetera. Then Miranda’s class is talking about a
meteorite that is supposed to collide with the moon and they were
assigned homework because of the phenomenon. It’s the same for
her French class. They are required to write out a report on what
they think the effect on the moon will be and they have to write it
in French. But Miranda is thinking that it’s just another excuse to
give out homework. They make their way home and Miranda does
he projects and everything and she thinks that “It’s not like the
moon is going to hit us, it’s just going to hit the moon.” She doesn’t
think the impact is going to have an effect on the earth, that it’s not
something worth writing about.
Climax: The most intense and exciting part of the
story. There can be multiple climaxes.
• Everyone’s watching the moon waiting to see what’s going
to happen. They think it’s going to be something small that
is fun to see. But their curiousness soon turns to terror as
the moon is hit with a meteor and catastrophic effects take
place: The moon receives a huge crater and is knocked
closer to the earth. People scream, cry, run for their cars,
and even sing the national anthem as panic bubbles to the
limit. The collision causes phone problems, satellite and
land line, to hit everyone. Satellite problems also include
television reception problems which make looking out for
the news tedious work. Gas is also affected so produce
trucks can’t reach them and prices shoot up to 9-10 dollars
a gallon. So, they have a limited amount food, gas, and
even heat.
Man vs nature:
-The characters of the story are constantly tested by the weather changes that
the collision of the moon and meteorite create like: ash contaminated air, freezing
temperatures, blizzards, etcetera. Miranda has to face the blizzards many times
protecting her family, one time in which she was knocked into the snow after a giant
gust of wind hit her all because she was protecting her brother. The collision’s effect
starts to create rain and thunderstorms and it knocks trees down onto the roads making
the Evan’s traveling from store to store to scavenge for items more difficult. It causes
flashes of power surges and brown outs as the lightning struck power lines.
Man vs self:
-Miranda the most out of everyone has this struggle in the book. She continues to have
negative thoughts on her life then after, thought about pulling through and making it.
Matt, after he breaks his leg, thinks that he won’t ever be able to help his family and
that he will be invalid for the rest of his life. Mrs. Evans or “Mom” is dealing with a
temporarily sprained leg and she just can’t hand not being able to help her children so
she ends up walking on it anyway.
Man vs Society:
-Miranda’s family is forced to fight for their food as they move through the superstore’s
near-empty shelves. Strangers try to steal their buggy, their food and anything they can
get their hands on.
Falling Action: when the story calms a little. (A
little rest from the climax of the story)
• The weather is stormier than it used to be and it doesn’t see the
sun like it used to. People start to leave to find better areas as they
start to figure that staying means scarcity. So Miranda’s family
divvies and saves as much resources as possible so they can last as
long as possible. Some of Miranda’s friends left leaving her with
Megan, Dan, Sammy, and her swim team. But they soon find out
that a West Nile Virus has reached their area so they hardly see
each other anymore. They soon stop swimming altogether.
Miranda’s dad comes with batteries, boxes and boxes of canned
produce, blankets, electric lamps, and so much more. It all but
reduced her mom to a puddle of tears. Then they said their good
byes and her Dad and Lisa left for Lisa’s grandparent’s home to
make sure they’re ok. Every once and a while her Dad sends letters
to confirm that they are fine and everything is all right.
Rising action: When the story is
building up for the best moment.
• Ash descends on them and pollutes the air and
water giving them even less options and
resources. When the snow comes it comes hard.
The ash pollutes the snow and gives the heavy
thick flakes a possibility of illness. Miranda goes
out skating and skiing with her siblings. But she’s
got a limited amount of time before the ashy air
makes them cough, so minimal exercise is
accomplished. The air continuously gets colder
and it becomes harder to stay outside and
Climax: The most intense and exciting
part of the story.
• Miranda’s whole family is sick except her. Jonny’s sickness
seems to be the worst as he thrashes around his bed rejecting
help in a fit of illness. Mom’s is moderate. She is in a cold
sweat and is rejecting her tea and aspirin. Matt’s illness is the
least of the three. He is just shaky and in a cold sweat. He can
stand but can’t walk great distances. He can’t go up the stairs.
He can’t work for the family. So although it is the smallest of
the three I think it effects him the greatest. Miranda races to
her Dad’s skis and forgets to put multiple pairs of socks on so
she slips and falls frequently as she zooms to the hospital that
is miles away. When she makes it she asks the reception ladies
if Peter, Her mother’s boyfriend was there. But he wasn’t
there. He was dead. He died on the job as did most of the
doctors and nurses in the hospital
Falling Action: when the story calms a
little. (gets ready for the resolution)
• She goes home and takes care of her family giving
them baths, feeding them, Getting items that they
request for, etcetera. But she becomes worried about
her Dad and Lisa and of course the baby Rachel. So
Miranda goes on a journey to the post office to make
sure that they’re alright. She notices how empty
everything is and all the dead pets that were left
behind when people moved away. She finds the post
office but it is closed. All seemed lost. Miranda was
getting ready to pass away right on the office steps but
in a desire to get yellow paper she finds that
miraculously Town Hall was open on Fridays and it was
a Friday! So she went to town hall. . .
Miranda: Miranda is the main character so she is a major character in the book. She is a
dynamic character in the story because at the beginning, she complained about how she
feels like people from a church are taking her friend away from her, how she doesn’t have a
boyfriend, and how she thinks that her step mom, Lisa, is annoying until she does something
nice for her. But then, a meteorite crashes into the moon and her life takes a turn for the
worst. She stars to get tired of eating the same foods over and over, her brother is goes to
camp and she becomes angry with him, she feels like her life is over. She becomes stubborn
because she is insistent on thinking that things can’t get any worse so she developed some
optimism. As the story furthers, Miranda finds out how much she loves her mother, how
much she’s willing to do for Jonny, how bad things really are, etc. Miranda is a protagonist
because she looks after her family and virtually does anything she can do to save them.
(Watching over them and taking care of them while their sick, limiting her food in take so
Jonny can survive, etc.)
Mom: She is one of the major characters in the story because she’s she continuously breaks
her ankle and has to be tended to by her children. She starts off as kind, person that’s willing
to give to charity anything she doesn’t need. So she is obviously a protagonist. She is also a
dynamic character because when the moon got hit with a meteorite, she became more
worried about her family then strangers she doesn’t know about. She starts getting more
irritable because she has to watch out for not only her kids but also her ex-husband, who is
now a good friend of hers, his wife Lisa, her boyfriend Peter, and Mrs. Nesbitt. She starts
thinking that if you’re not her children, her ex-husband and his wife, Mrs. Nesbitt, or Peter,
you’re not worth the trouble. She thinks that sharing is a privilege that they don’t have. So
she stays a protagonist. She hates being helpless to her children and starts to walk on her
injured ankle.
Jonny: He is a major character because he is Miranda’s brother and they mention his love of
baseball many times throughout the story. He’s a protagonist because he is pretty oblivious to
what’s going on in the story for a little while, and then after he goes to camp, he comes home and
gives a toast to the family’s well-being. He is dynamic because in the beginning of the book he was
innocent and young but the moon’s effect on the earth aged him figuratively a couple of years and
then he started worrying about his family and he volunteered to leave the family to find a better
place to live in but he was still the youngest in the family so Miranda turned him down. He learns
how to ski better so he could escape if the others pass away (The same with Miranda and Matt.).
He becomes brawny from chopping trees for wood and helps with the heavy lifting.
Mrs. Nesbitt: She is a major character because Miranda’s family takes care of her and visits her
house frequently. She’s a protagonist because she bakes cookies for them as much as possible and
helped them to gather food when the moon caused global problems. She went from store to store
with them to buy out everything that was left in each. She’s pretty static because the whole time
she feels like since she was born in her house that she has to die in her house. So, she is being
stubborn when it came to moving in to Miranda’s house and she gives out her things to each of the
Evans in Miranda’s family. Inevitably, she does die in her house.
Matt: He is a major character in the book because he’s Miranda’s brother and she looks to him if
she’s worried about something. He’s a protagonist because he helps calm Miranda down and he’s
so good that he stays out in the thunder-storming rain to chop down trees for the family’s warmth.
He’s dynamic because as the novel goes on he gets more grim and worried. That he feels they
should prepare for the worst. He becomes ill like Jonny and his mother but his cold is mild yet he is
the most effected because thinks he will never be able to help the family so he becomes frustrated
Theme and Resolution T R
-The moral of a story
-How the story ends
• Theme:
• -Never give up
• Nearly every time Miranda’s family was in trouble Miranda came to
their rescue enduring some troubles herself but she persevered.
• “I knew what I had to do next and that was to get rid of the piece of
wood that caused the backfire. I went to the door, took a few deep
breaths, then came back in and opened the woodstove.
• The smoke was overwhelming, I raced back outside and grabbed a
handful of snow to rub against my burning eyes. I swallowed some
of the snow. . . I went back into the sunroom. The smoke was still
incredibly thick and I thought I’d cough my lungs up. I crawled over
to the stove and put on the mitts. I reached in and pulled out the
smoking log. Even through the mitt, I could tell the log was wet.
Hot, wet, and steaming and smoking. I juggled it between the mitts,
crawled to the door and threw it out.” (Pfeffer pg. 303)
Theme and Resolution
• Resolution: This story ends with a kind of answer to a
question that Jonny asked.
• - “A while ago Jonny asked me why I was still keeping a
journal, who I was writing it for. I’ve asked myself that a lot,
especially in the really bad times. Sometimes I’ve thought
I’m keeping it for people 200 years from now, so they can
see what our lives were like. Sometimes I’ve thought I’m
keeping it for that day when people no longer exist but
butterflies can read. But today, when I’m 17 and warm and
well fed, I’m keeping this journal for myself so I can always
remember life as we knew it, life as we know it, and for the
time when I am no longer in the sunroom.” (Pfeffer pg. 337)
M ood Definition
How the story makes you feel
• In the story, Miranda has to deal with a lot of hardships and negativities
that come to mind. So I think the mood is discouraging.
• “There was no point getting off the ground. I sat there, holding on to the
useless lamp, waiting for Jonny. . .”(Pfeffer pg. 261)
• “But I didn’t care. I’d made it to town and that was all I planned for. I’d go
to the post office and find word from Dad that he and Lisa and baby Rachel
were alive and well.
• It was eerie standing on the main street of town, seeing no one, hearing no
one, smelling nothing but the stench of death. Then I got to the post office
and saw it was dead too…” (Pfeffer pg. 331)
• “The guard didn’t seem to be in any hurry to take my message to Peter.
First he made me write it out, and then he read it, and then he demanded I
show him some ID. Which, of course, I didn’t have on me. I begged him to
take the message to Peter. He grinned. I could tell he was used to people
begging him for things and he liked it.”(Pfeffer pg. 201)
• An epidemic of deadly colds breaks out and reaches Miranda’s family but
it doesn’t affect her. I think the mood in these passages is frustrating.
• “You can try fluids,” Linda said. “If you have any food, try to make them
eat. They’ll need all the strength they can get.” Maggie shook her head.
“Save the food for yourself, hon,” she said. “You look healthy
enough…”(Pfeffer pg. 297)
• “Sometimes I think about everything I went through when they were all
sick and it makes me so angry. How dare they die now?”(Pfeffer pg. 323)
• “Mom was close to unconscious when the tea was ready, but we lifted her
head and forced the tea and aspirin down her throat. . . She was shivering
terribly, so I took one of the blankets off my mattress and draped it around
• Jon was harder. His arms were swinging around so wildly that he hit me in
the jaw and knocked me over.”(Pfeffer pg. 294)
Some of her friends die in the story escaping from the hardships they faced. I think
the mood is depressing.
“I need Dr. Elliot,” I said. “Peter Elliot. Where is he?”
“Elliot . . . He died on Saturday, didn’t he, Maggie?” Linda said.
“No, I think it was Friday,” Maggie replied. It took me a moment to realize
they were saying Peter was dead. Peter who had done all he could to protect us
and care for us had died. (Pfeffer pg. 296)
“Mrs. Nesbitt died. I don’t know when, but she was in bed and I’d like to think she
died in her sleep.” (Pfeffer pg. 240)
Megan Wayne died of starvation. “. . . Her mother summoned me one morning and
we prayed over Megan’s remains. She asked me to bury Megan in their backyard,
but the ground was frozen and I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I went back to the
church to ask for help and when we returned to the house we found Mrs. Wayne
had hung herself,” Reverend said. (Pfeffer pg. 221)
S etting
• In the book “life as we know it” by Susan Beth Pfeffer, the setting takes
place on Howell Rd in Pennsylvania and Miranda’s school. The people in
Miranda Evans’ neighborhood are low in food, water, gas, even good air
which causes a hazardous environment as people fight for wagons to carry
The water supply has
their food in and fight for the food
been polluted with
No more
and is no longer
hazardous place as gangs bringproduce
plywood, a
is to steal empty houses’
coming in so and more. The main character’s
deadly cold hits most of the citizens,
happened to their
they have to
No electricity
school is affected in a lot of bad
which was
survive with
what they have
closed due lack of electricity causing
the sanitation tocleaner,
be filthy.
Another is,
no pool
and what they
hot lunch service since the food
supply is shortening and
cleaner it
dirty on and
can get/ find.
on. Her family is also affected at her house: Their food becomes canned
and powdered, their heating goes down because of the gas, their
personalities change {mostly they all start to get irritable (everyone except
Jonny, Dad, and Mrs. Nesbitt)} etc. More to add to the list of problems are,
ash covering the air killing vegetation and causing the air to becomes
contaminated, her friends start to move away, more teachers and students
are missing, Horton, Miranda’s family’s cat, is missing, the list goes on.