cover image This World We Live In

This World We Live In

Susan Beth Pfeffer, . . Harcourt, $17 (239pp) ISBN 978-0-547-24804-2

The protagonists of Pfeffer's novels The Dead and the Gone and Life As We Knew It join forces in this third installment of a harrowing saga set in the not so distant future. A year after the moon was thrown off course by a meteor, natural disasters and climate changes on Earth are still making mere existence a challenge. Miranda's family is barely scraping by on food rations when Miranda's father, stepmother, their baby, and three other refugees show up unexpectedly. Despite there now being more mouths to feed, Miranda's mother welcomes them, and Miranda finds herself falling in love with Alex, one of the refugees, as they spend hours together, scavenging abandoned houses for essentials. Pfeffer masterfully evokes the cold, colorless world in which her characters reside. Moments of relief are frequently tinged with horror, as when Miranda and Alex must bypass a rotting corpse to get to a horde of food. Still, hope is never completely extinguished. Throughout, readers will be moved by displays of compassion, strength, and faith as characters endure grim realities and face an uncertain future. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)