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The Dead and the Gone


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Gr 7 Up-Susan Beth Pfeffer's apocalyptic, coming-of-age novel (Harcourt, 2008) immediately draws listeners into a terrifyingly macabre world where life as we know it ceases to exist. "Wednesday, May 18.At the moment when life as he had known it changed forever, Alex Morales was behind the counter at Joey's Pizza, slicing a spinach pesto pie into eight roughly equal pieces." Alex is clueless to the events unfolding around him. His mother has been called in to work at the hospital, his father is at the funeral of his grandmother in Puerto Rico, and his brother Carlos is away from home in the Marines. So when Alex's parents fail to return home following unimaginably catastrophic environmental events caused by the collision of an asteroid and the moon, the teenager becomes protector, provider, and parent to his two younger sisters. Alex's strict upbringing in a close-knit Catholic, Puerto Rican family is called into question when he is forced to do immoral and unethical acts, such as body shopping-stripping the valuables from corpses lying in the streets-to barter for things they need to survive. Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It (Harcourt, 2006) looked at the event from a small-town perspective; this companion novel looks at the same incident set in New York City. Robertson Dean narrates in a rich, clear voice as he reveals the story through Alex's third-person narration. Themes such as our response to climate changes and the failure of society to care for individuals in the event of such a catastrophe will be wonderful discussion starters with middle and high school students.- Beverly S. Almond, East Lee Middle School, Sanford, NC Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

As riveting as Life as We Knew It and even grittier, this companion novel returns to the premise of that previous book to show how New York City responds to the global disasters that ensue when an asteroid knocks the moon out of orbit. This time Pfeffer focuses on high school junior Alex Morales, whose parents go missing after the catastrophe. It's up to him to find a way to keep himself and his two younger sisters alive while the planet is rocked by famine, floods, freezing temperatures and widespread disease. Once again Pfeffer creates tension not only through her protagonist's day-to-day struggles but also through chilling moral dilemmas: whether to rob the dead, who to save during a food riot, how long to preserve the hope that his parents might return. She depicts death and destruction more graphically than before, making the horror of Alex's ordeal all the more real. Religion also plays a larger role. A devout Catholic, Alex finds his faith in God shaken, but he relies on the guidance, compassion and sacrifice of church leaders in order to stay alive. The powerful images and wrenching tragedies will haunt readers. Ages 12-up. (June) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Praise for "Life as We Knew It: ""You will read it in one sitting, fighting back tears as you bite your nails."
" "[star] "Absorbing from first page to last . . . Celebrates the fortitude and resourcefulness of human beings during critical times."--"Publishers Weekly "(starred)

* "As riveting as "Life as We Knew It" and even grittier. . . . The powerful images and wrenching tragedies will haunt readers." "Publishers Weekly, "starred review

* "Everything Pfeffer writes about seems wrenchingly plausible." "Booklist, "starred review

"Incredibly engaging." "Kirkus Reviews""

* "As riveting as Life as We Knew It and even grittier. . . . The powerful images and wrenching tragedies will haunt readers."--Publishers Weekly, starred review

* "Everything Pfeffer writes about seems wrenchingly plausible."--Booklist, starred review

"Incredibly engaging."--Kirkus Reviews

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