This World We Live In | Book Review

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Book 3 of 4.


Prior books in the series:

  1. Life as we knew it
  2. The Dead & The Gone

PLOT LINE:

Β This is the third book in a series of four. The premise of the series is that an asteroid has hit the moon and pushed it closer towards Earth, which causes a post-apocalyptic world in which volcanoes erupt producing ash into the air, tsunamis and earthquakes occur, drought and famine, illness and lots of death. The story follows first, Miranda, and her family of older brother Matt and little brother Jon, her Mom and their cat, Horton, through the first summer and winter of their new world and the trials and tribulations that accompany them as they try desperately to live despite the odds against them.

In the second book, we follow Alex Morales, a Puerto Rican brother whose older brother, Carlos is in the marines, and his two younger sisters Briana and Julie are left to themselves as their parents (Mom at work in the hospital and Papi in Puerto Rico for his mother’s funeral) have disappeared, and presumed dead, to the new world that’s rocked their ships overboard. They stay as long as they can in New York City, before the sickness and more death plagues them as well. With a heartbreaking end to one of the sisters lives, (I totally cried at that bit personally and once I finished the book went over a long plot line to my Mom about what it was about) it’s up to Alex to take responsibility for his last sister, try to find Carlos and what they should do next, and ultimately move away from the death grip on NYC to better times and better lives ahead.

The third book, this one, is where Miranda meets Alex and Julie. Along with them, Matt has become married to a girl named Syl when Jon and he went fishing for shad to feed the family. Then came in baby Gabriel, Lisa (step-mom) and Dad (of Miranda and the two brothers) as well as a new friend, Charlie, as they’ve all six of them traveled in a pack since they met up a couple months before. Alex feels like a burden on Miranda’s family and ensures them that they’ll be leaving soon, but until they do Jon and Julie form a budding relationship and Alex and Miranda wind up doing similar (after some build up and attractive tension). Alex, Miranda, Julie and the Dad go out from the PA (Pennsylvania) area to find the convent for Julie, but when they arrive there is only one sister left and they wind up back in PA. It’s discovered that Alex has passes to a safe town and Miranda decides to go with him and for them to marry and wed. It would take care of their Dad and Lisa and the baby and Charlie–until a tornado hits the town and another, very sad and had me sobbing loss of life occurs in a tragic, heartbreaking manner that REALLY makes reading this series SO WORTH THE MOURNING. In the end, what’s left of their family is moving out from the broken edge of their town to find a better place.

I actually tried not to give away too much this time!! And onward we go…..


My Recommendation Score:

5/5 STARS. Worth reading two other books prior to REALLY feel the sadness of the character deaths and to get to know them better (so when they rip away for you it hurts and you cry just like I did. BUAHAHAH)

Who doesn’t like a good cry, anyhow? πŸ˜‰


QUOTES + Some of my THOUGHTS:

  1. “‘The shad’s not the problem,’ Mom said, which could have fooled me, since the shad had been the problem thirty seconds earlier” – p. 41

A humorous scene that made me laugh πŸ™‚ There are a couple quotes like these for you to get some of the humor filled within this series ❀

2. “And I had this great realization: I don’t have to be happy all the time. With [everything’s that happened] no one should expect to be happy. But moments of happiness can sneak up on you, like pairs of unworn blue jeans, and you need to cherish them because they’re so rare and unpredictable” – p. 77

I think this quote is poignant for both what happens in this series, to the characters and to the town, as well as it’s relatable to the present moment, the journey of recovery and getting over and through the wreckage that’s lasted for the duration of time you’ve been in the darkness. It’s a quote about hope and joy and cherishing them no matter how fleeting they may come to you. ❀ Remember, feelings are temporary, both the good and the bad. ❀ Hold them in a jar, glowing in the night, then let them go when their light starts to putter out. It won’t be forever that you’ll have no light in the jar, it’s just that sometimes we have to pass through some part of the journey with the light within us glowing rather than the world around us. Even if we don’t realize that light within us is glowing again. It is. Always. ❀

3. “It’s nice to know the first thing he’d noticed about me was my ravishing collection of black-and-blue marks” – p. 129

Another humorous bit here πŸ˜‰

4. “‘Picture Princess Leia on her planet, or a Klingon, or some eight-eyed thing with four brains. And whatever it is, it’s outside on a hot June night, looking at the ten thousand stars in its sky. Our Sun is one of them. It can see our Sun better than we can, and it has a name for it, like we have names for the stars. But Princess Leia doesn’t know we’re standing here looking up to where the stars used to be. Does that mean we don’t exist just because she can’t see us?’

I had never thought about that before: all the life on all the other planets throughout the universe as unaware of our lives, our suffering, as we are of theirs” – p. 140

In this passage the characters were talking about whether or not God exists and how we can’t see him so one of the characters brought up this metaphor and it was a breakthrough for our narrator, Miranda, who made a lovely discovery thereafter. I just love this. It’s beautiful and thought-provoking. I hope you enjoy it as well ❀ It makes me want to take a moment of silence to just open my mind to the possible enjoyment and suffering that is going on throughout our planet and our universe in this one sliver of a moment, and speak my thoughts out to them and just, for a moment, be aware that someone somewhere may be suffering and that I, some other human some place else, is thinking of them and wishing them through their hard time. ❀

5. “But it’s our curse and our blessing to remember the past and to know there’s a future” – p. 148

I think this is really relatable as well. Especially to know there’s a future. Sometimes it’s easier to imagine there not being a future, but that’s just another lie to ourselves, I think. Right now, I’m finding it difficult to know there’s a future for me, and in that, I take some solace with it as well. I can recall the past and it’s difficult, and I can know there’s a future for me, which is also difficult and also hopeful. I may not feel I can make it to that future, as I have in the past, but I made it to here and now which IS a blessing, even if it may not always feel like it. I will take a moment to just believe in that. ❀

6. “‘You. Charlie. Everybody. You talk about the future like you’re so sure we’re going to have one’ (Miranda).

You have to believe in the future. Otherwise there’s no point in being alive‘ (Alex)” – p. 150

This is a very common theme in the book as you will see through these quotes. I’m glad it is, it’s very relatable. I find this is true for right now. The future is something for me to hold on to. It’s something that slips through my hand like sand but it’s real and it’s coming and I’m going to be here for it when it does. Is that easy? No. But it’s something to hold onto. And I like having things to hold onto. ❀

7. “‘You don’t have to believe in the church or even in God. Believe that people can change things’ (Alex).

We’re all helpless. There’s nothing we can do. There’s nothing left to trust in.’ (Miranda)

Trust in tomorrow. Every day of your life, there’s been a tomorrow. I promise you, there’ll be a tomorrow‘ (Alex)” – p. 150

Today I’m trusting in tomorrow. If you, too, are struggling, I invite you to also trust in tomorrow. We can both trust in our tomorrow’s together. Never alone, just side by side, trusting in them. ❀ ❀ ❀

This also reminds me of this song:

8. “‘I’m sorry for everything.’ (Alex)

‘It’s okay, it was just a dream.’ (Miranda) ” – p. 151

This scene in the book has a little dream metaphor, and it is lovely and is worth the read for this series. ❀

9. “Life’s sloppy. You think you know how tomorrow is going to be, you’ve made your plans, everything is set in place, and then the unimaginable happens. Life catches you by surprise. It always does. But there’s good mixed in with the bad. It’s there. You just have to recognize it” – p. 177

There’s positive with the negative. Look hard enough, make notes of it as you do, and you WILL find it. There is ALWAYS HOPE! ❀ ❀ Believe in a better tomorrow πŸ™‚

10. “I want him so much. I want the wall between us to dissolve, for us to be alone, to be together, to be one. Then my doubts would be gone. My nightmares would be gone. All there would be is Alex and me. Two bodies. One heart” – p. 179

For the lovebirds out there reading this. ❀ A simple shout-out πŸ˜‰

11. “Mom took my hand. ‘This wasn’t how things were supposed to be. You should be in high school, your future ahead of you. Not this.’

‘It wasn’t supposed to be this way for Alex, either. Or Matt. Or Jon.

You have to fight for happiness. Maybe it didn’t used to be that way, but it is now.

I’m not going to settle for sadness. That’s not what you want for me, not really.’

‘I want to protect you. I want to know that you’re safe, that you’ll be all right.’

Just love me. Love me and let me go‘” – p. 207-208

This scene is a double whammy. For one, the ‘supposed to be’ part reminds me of the Grey’s Anatomy Lexie/Sloan relationship and their final parting of ‘meant to be’:

The second wave of it is with Miranda’s ending, that she wants her Mom just to love her and to let her go. Letting go is such a magical, heartfelt and sad theme for me and it really blew me away the finality and poignancy of this scene in the book. I just love it. It’s so critical for these two characters and of the book itself. I love it. ❀ ❀

Also, I love the idea of not settling for sadness. I feel that’s the spunk that’s needed in recovery, to not settle for your brain’s bullshit. Instead to fight and fight strong like the WARRIOR & SURVIVOR you are!!! (Especially when you don’t feel you are yet you ARE by your actions and your values)

12. “She began to cry. ‘Don’t leave me. Please. I made Alex promise he’d never leave me to die alone” – p. 231

THIS SCENE. If the dream sequence doesn’t pull you in, then THIS SCENE WILL. It’s so beautifully heartbreaking, so utterly sad, so much ‘letting go’ and just had me sobbing like a baby. It’s amazing. It really brings out the love and attachment you’ve formed with the characters along the journey and it really HITS YOU IN THE FEELS. It’s so, sooooo beautiful. I wish I could express it more, and put in the whole scene for you guys, but it’s meant to be read more than anything. So beautiful. So sad. It took me a while to get all the details aligned in my mind but they are THERE and the flow of this book and leading up to this scene, god, it makes you really think about life and question what you’re doing or not doing. Amazing.

13. “But we can’t stay here. The house is falling in on us. It’s collapsing, Alex, but you have to believe the world is still there. The house is gone, Howell (town) may be gone, but there’s a world to live in, a world that needs us. We’re family, Alex. You’re a part of us” – p. 236-237

Another double wave dose. I love the idea that the world is still out there. Like, when I am struggling, the world hasn’t gone any place else, it’s still there and it’s still there for me to welcome myself back into it. I can go out, I can go to a store, there’s freakin’ STATIONARY THAT EXISTS. And while I exist too, I can HAS THE STATIONARY. And I love the part that the world still needs them. This world still needs me. I have to believe and trust in that tomorrow. Because I’m not done with this story yet. ❀ ❀ ❀ ❀ ❀ (and neither are you!!!)

14. “This is the last time I’m writing in my diaries. I’m choosing not to burn them. They’re witness to my story, to all our stories. If I burn them it’s like denying Mom ever lived or Jon or Matt or Syl… I can’t deny them their stories just to protect mine… I’ll leave the diaries behind. I’ll never write in one again.

My story is told. Let someone else write the next one” – p. 238-239

I just love this. I like the idea that Miranda’s diary is a witness to her story and all those she wrote about. It fits into this post-apocalyptic world AND it fits into our real world now. If you think about it, this blog is a witness to my story, just as yours is to you. I like the idea of not denying others of their story, of protecting theirs while telling your own. It’s what makes code names and a change of the story so much more interesting and protects what others may not be ready to tell, even if you are. ❀

I also love the idea that Miranda’s story has been told, and that someone else will have to write the next one. That just makes me smile. πŸ˜€ I also have a thing for stories being told, as you can imagine. πŸ˜‰ It’s a little spooky and eerie thinking of when the last story will be told…. *shudders* Oooo! Sppooookyyy.

15. “Without Julie I wouldn’t have remembered that the darkest sky is filled with stars, that the sun casts its warmth on the coldest day.

Alex is calling to me. I’ll go with him, stand with him, hold his hand as he takes his first steps toward life.

He taught me to trust in tomorrow” – p. 239

A really beautiful quote here. ❀ I just love it, like I’ve loved this book and series. I was glad that while I was reading this book I could recall scenes and conversations from the prior two, that was really neat and really showed that I’d invested myself into their lives and their troubles. It’s one of those books where when you finish it (and you’ve sucked up your days to finish it) you look up and have to take a few hours to re-adjust to THIS world again. It’s like ‘Oh right, we’re NOT in a apocalypse and we HAVE electricity and things and soap and food and the moon IS in its place…. Riiight’ It’s kind of dizzying but in a really awesome way.

Like when you see an intense movie and you walk out of the theater like ‘Right, there’s not dinosaurs running around going to consume me and I have to run for my life.’ Or there aren’t superheroes or Loki’s army around…. which is too bad, really. πŸ˜‰

I like that I’ve learned to trust in tomorrow from this book. That’s an awesome life lesson.

 

And as of now, towards this end, I am feeling much better and lighter than before. I hope you guys are all right. And if you’re having trouble, invest in a book to read, it may just help your day. ❀ ❀ ❀

Thinking I may go outside today…as I begin my next fictional journey!!! “He’s Gone” by Deb Caletti. πŸ™‚

 

Hope you liked this!!!

 

P.S.!!! This book had that prayer ‘If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take’ and it totally reminded me of this book I read YEARRRRSSS AGO that used that same prayer multiple times and after some DIGGING I FOUND IT! I cannot WAIT to re-read it!!!!!

“The Intruders” by E.E. Richardson. πŸ˜€

 

6 thoughts on “This World We Live In | Book Review

  1. This post is great. The books sound amazing, and I love your commentary on it. You’ve put a lot of thought into it. The quotes and song is beautiful πŸ˜‰πŸ™‹πŸ’œ

    Liked by 1 person

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