So, here I am blogging from South Hadley, MA, where the alumnae are gathering for our short rehearsal period before we head off (singing) to China. I finished listening to Life As We Knew It while at ALA -- a very popular title among our committee, as it has already received mostly positive reviews (and votes). I had to cut a conversation short in our committee meeting because certain members were threatening to reveal the ending -- and I had a disk to go. And the ending is enough of a cliffhanger (at least to me), that I'm not going to spoil it, either.
So, this unique story tells of an asteroid colliding with the moon, pushing it closer to Earth ... and pretty much everything goes to hell. Our heroine, Miranda, is a dedicated diarist and she tells us the story of her family's survival during the first nine months following the catastrophe. For an interior kind of story (diary entries recording day-to-day life), it is riveting listening, because it is so unusual. What will the family (Miranda, her divorced mother and two brothers ... plus Hobart [?] the cat -- remain calm, no pets die in this story) do when they run out of food, of oil for heat, catch the flu, and fend off neighbors in the same predicament? It is touch and go the whole way.
The reader, Emily Bauer, has just the right youthful-sounding voice to read Miranda's diary entries. She's not showy, she's not particularly emotional (although she can pull out the stops when having a teenager's temper tantrum); she has a completely conversational delivery that works perfectly for this book. By filtering the whole story through Miranda's eyes, the story has real immediacy for any reader growing up in these broken times. (The President, who shows up once or twice in the story, is a poorly disguised Shrub ... and Miranda's mom thinks he's a doofus. The mind boggles at how this administration would handle a crisis of these proportions.)
I think this title would work as reading up for mature elementary listeners.