Unnatural Disasters

Jeff Hirsch. Clarion, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-544-99916-9
It’s the end of the world but no one feels fine in this apocalyptic drama, set in upstate New York, 2049, which explores the everyday realities of small-town life during the collapse of civilization. As high school senior Lucy and her friends plan a postgraduation trip, a terrorist attack disrupts their prom and annihilates much of Washington, D.C., starting a domino effect that leads to the threat of all-out global war. Meanwhile, climate change results in horrifying weather conditions and the certainty that things will never return to normal. Lucy’s friends, family, and neighbors react to the events in myriad ways: her boyfriend moves to Brazil with a group of religious extremists, many classmates drop out of school, and others become emotional zombies. Lucy, her plans to travel now on hold, finds unexpected rapport with former overachiever Jay; together, they struggle to maintain sanity in a world gone mad. Focus on everyday reactions to extraordinary events leads to an intimate story about grief, trauma, and coping, and character reactions by Hirsch (Black River Falls) feel authentic. The global crisis itself mostly takes place offstage, which sometimes seems like a missed opportunity, as does the final act, which fast-forwards through another book’s worth of material to end on an optimistic moment. Ages 12–up. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/12/2018
Release date: 01/22/2019
Ebook - 978-1-328-53068-4
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