Let me just start off by saying that Susan Beth Pfeffer is completely, amazingly awesome for passing along the ARCs of td&tg to fans (like me) who have been dying to read this follow-up to LAWKI! I literally screamed and then jumped up and down — in the middle of my library! — when I found out I was among the chosen few to receive an ARC. Now that I am finally done reading it, the ARC is making its way through the hands of the other YS librarians, but I will certainly loan it to anyone else who stops by the library and asks. For the most up-to-date news about td&tg — like if Ms. Pfeffer has any more ARCs to raffle off from the Bolivian hat! — check out her blog at http://susanbethpfeffer.blogspot.com/. And now, on to the review:
In td&tg, we follow the lives of the Morales family (of NYC). When a meteor crashes into the moon, resulting in natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis, Papi is away (in Puerto Rico) to attend a funeral, Mami is called in to work at a hospital in Queens, and their eldest son, Carlos, is in California with the Marines. This means that 17-year-old Alex is now responsible for his younger sisters, fourteen-year-old Briana and twelve-year-old Julie. Alex knows that it will be tough to be the head of the household, but he reassures himself that it is only temporary. Mami will soon come home from the hospital, and Papi will return from Puerto Rico as soon as airplanes start flying again. Right?
Unfortunately, things are not as simple as he initially thought. Much like Miranda, in LAWKI, Alex goes through a very quick maturation and learns the true definitions of hard work, sacrifice, and love. When food supplies start to run out, Alex makes some very tough decisions — skipping meals so his sisters can eat more; sending Briana away to work at a convent so she will have ready access to fresh food, which also frees up more food for Alex and Julie; stealing from other people’s apartments to reinforce his families supplies of food, clothing, and other necessities; and doing other, terrible, things he never could have imagined in his previous life for the sake of a few more meals.
In stark contrast to Miranda’s house with a wood stove, in the suburban setting of LAWKI, the Morales family must try to survive in a contemporary NYC high-rise apartment building. How will they stay warm once the oil in the furnace is gone? When the natural gas and electricity stop, how will they cook their food or boil their drinking water? At times, it seems that all hope is gone, but Alex and his sisters cling to life with their strong Catholic faith and their hope for a future in which they will be reunited with the rest of their family.
Sometimes gross, often heart-breaking, but always enthralling. This would be a great book for a reluctant reader. (Just make sure s/he doesn’t have too many anxiety issues!)