A Reluctant Book Recommendation
February 7, 2013 7 Comments
Worldwide tidal waves.
And that’s just the beginning.
So is the premise for a young adult novel I just finished reading. No apocalyptic-nut can resist a book that has that as its description. Maybe it was because of The Hunger Games that made me feel like I’m not too old to be reading this teen book. Or maybe I just like really, really good stories about the end of the world. Either way, Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer didn’t disappoint.
To be sure, it disappointed in a few ways, but not the way I expected. I’ll get to that in a minute. The story flowed smoothly, the characters were likable and believable, and it was one of those fictional books that got into my head – like, really got in there. To the point where I was nervous about the refrigerator being left open for too long the other night because of how important it was to keep our food rations fresh.
Written in the style of Anne Frank, the book felt real, and intense, and sometimes scary. Yes, it had me planning ahead for what would happen if the moon did get knocked closer to the earth. Good news is, according to this book, my wife and I will be safe in Kentucky. You Floridians and Californians will mostly be wiped out. Good bye New England and parts of India. Gone.
But the reason I’m reluctant to recommend this book to teens is because of the unnecessary political and religious agenda that the author spews out onto its pages, soiling this otherwise flawless book.
Pfeffer spends a good deal of the first part of the book bashing President Bush, making one of the main characters, a mother, yell at him whenever he’s on the TV calling him an idiot and saying she hates him. What else are the mother’s kids to do but laugh and agree? To be fair, I wouldn’t think it would be necessary for an author to pull the same stunt against Obama or Clinton or Carter. I just hate to see such outright political propaganda spelled out so clearly in a teen fiction book.
(This book was selected for the ALA Best Book for Young Adults amongst many other prestigious honors, by the way.)
But praise be to Pfeffer, her writing style and suspenseful plot was just enough to keep me from throwing the book away. It has a few bad words throughout, but nothing overt or out of proper context. Though it doesn’t feature Twilight-type sex-praising, it does feature teens making out a few times.
But the saddest part about the book for me was the author’s apparent bump-ins with Christians in her life. It reads clearly that she has a deep disdain for Christians and our beliefs. Judging by the book, I feel like she’s only met the type of Christians who’s only answer to every terrible crisis in life is to pray about it and be happy – always happy. The Christians featured in her book are shallow and naive, on purpose, I’m sure.
One Christian teenager the author portrays in the book starves herself because she feels it is God’s will for her life. If only Pfeffer knew that the Bible does not condone such awful behavior and any Christian who would do that would be/ought to be condemned by the church. A reverend comes across as a holier-than-thou jerk, who turns out to be hoarding his congregation’s food during the famine. His answer to everyone’s plea was always, “I’ll pray for you.” Luther would have had a hay day with this guy.
In fact, her “Christians” portray the exact people Jesus spent much of His ministry rebuking. At least this book can be an eye-opener for some of us as to how the world may perceive us, and may we change our ways.
I never want to avoid recommending a book because of any author’s beliefs, just like I would hate it if people refused to read my book because of my beliefs. But I do want to make readers aware of them, and help people to read (and write) regardless of their personal agendas. Art is art, and this book is a work of beauty, at least in a secular sense.
I hear there are two others in the series, and I’ll be grabbing them soon, and I’m sure I’ll be reveling every page – well, most of them, anyway.
Purchase it here on Amazon.
Follow what else I’m reading on Goodreads.