cover image We Are Unprepared

We Are Unprepared

Meg Little Reilly. Mira, $15.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-7783-1943-6

In her debut novel, Reilly offers a timely and terrifying, if at times heavy-handed, vision of impending climate-change-triggered devastation, both environmental and interpersonal. In their mid-30s, Ash and his wife, Pia, feel they’ve outgrown the self-conscious artifice of their hipster lives in Brooklyn. So they retreat to Ash’s native Vermont, purchasing a secluded woodland home and embarking on what they hope is a simpler life. But the couple’s personal worries and disputes over failing to conceive a child soon pale in comparison to their much deeper conflicts prompted by a looming weather event dubbed simply the Storm. Pia feels great kinship with the local survivalist “prepper” movement, while Ash puts his faith in the systems set up by his newly reclaimed community. After months of increasingly bizarre and unpredictable weather, the couple’s relationship (not to mention their respective preparations) are put to a dramatic test. Although the narrative tends to lapse into preachy philosophizing, the situations Reilly describes seem unsettlingly plausible (even if the meteorologists of the near future seem to possess uncannily prescient forecasting skills). Ultimately, Ash’s story points to human connection, rather than radical isolationism, as the key to surviving a crisis, a message that will uplift readers. (Sept.)