Life as We Knew It

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Matt Evans Character Analysis

The older brother of Miranda and Jonny. He is away at college when the lunar impact occurs but makes his way home from Ithaca, New York to Howell, Pennsylvania to be with his family. Miranda idealizes Matt and looks to him as a source of wisdom and strength. He acts as the peacekeeper in the family, often mediating disagreements between Miranda and Laura. He believes in treating Miranda like an adult and keeps her informed of new dangers, but agrees to shelter Jonny for as long as possible. While he is the most physically fit at the beginning of the novel, he strains his heart moving Laura and Jonny out of the sunroom to save them from smoke inhalation and never fully recovers.

Matt Evans Quotes in Life as We Knew It

The Life as We Knew It quotes below are all either spoken by Matt Evans or refer to Matt Evans. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harcourt edition of Life as We Knew It published in 2006.
Chapter 4 Quotes

I know it’s dumb of me, but I keep thinking that once Matt gets home, everything will be okay. Like he’ll push the moon back into place.

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker), Matt Evans
Related Symbols: The Moon
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

Miranda has documented her hero worship of her older brother, Matt. When he calls from college to let her know that he’ll be done taking finals and home soon, Miranda’s relief is palpable. She recognizes that Matt doesn’t actually possess any super powers or supplies that will make it easier for her family to survive the aftermath of the moon’s collision with the asteroid, but she also knows that his presence is calming for her. Her faith in his ability to make things better is both a compliment and a curse for Matt—especially since their parents are divorced. While he might not be capable of pushing the moon back into place, many jobs that should have been completed by his father, Hal, will now fall on Matt’s shoulders. Not the least of these is reassuring his younger siblings that things will be okay.

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One thing Matt did say to me was that no matter what the future is, we’re living through a very special time in history. He says that history makes us who we are, but we can make history also, and that anyone can be a hero, if they just choose to be.

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker), Matt Evans
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

Miranda records Matt’s pep talk in her diary, but she’s feeling skeptical as well as insecure about her own ability to be heroic. While Miranda idealizes Matt, she feels like her own cravings for ice cream and swim team and normalcy disqualify her from the category of hero. Miranda does recognize that Matt is her hero, but she also fails to realize that being heroic and being human are not mutually exclusive, and that Matt, like her, probably craves an escape from the burdens that have been thrust on him since his return from college. Like Miranda, there are surely things about life before the moon collision that Matt misses as well.

Chapter 6 Quotes

“I know Mom doesn’t want us to die,” I said. I thought really hard about what I wanted to say so it would come out right. “But I think maybe she doesn’t want us to live, either. We should just hide in our rooms and not feel anything and if we get rescued, great, but if we don’t, well, maybe we’ll live a little longer. If you can call it living. I know Mom tells you things she doesn’t tell me, but am I wrong? Because I really feel that way more and more. I’d like to be wrong, because it scares me if Mom feels that way. But I don’t think I am.”

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker), Matt Evans, Laura Evans
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:

Miranda is talking with her older brother, Matt, and discussing the aftermath of her argument with Laura. Miranda has begun to process and understand why Laura has been so controlling lately—why she panics if Matt stays out too long chopping wood or if Miranda goes to Miller’s Pond without telling her. But while Miranda understands her mother’s motives, she doesn’t truly understand the feelings behind them.

Instead, Miranda is processing her mother’s actions through her own vantage point. Miranda has recognized that their future is dubious, but rather than subscribe to Laura’s abundance of caution approach, Miranda is advocating living her life to the fullest. While Laura is prioritizing keeping them all alive for as long as possible, Miranda’s position is that they need to enjoy the life they do have. The disparity between their positions is alarming to Miranda, as she struggles to let go of her sixteen-year-old girl perspective and understand the larger powers at work on her life.

Chapter 7 Quotes

Maybe we’ll be lucky. Maybe something good will happen that we can’t imagine just now. But we have to prepare for the worst. You and I and Matt and Jonny have to prepare for the worst. We have to assume frosts in August. We have to assume no power and no food coming and no gas for the car and no oil for the furnace. Up till now we’ve been playacting survival, but from now on we have to take it seriously.

Related Characters: Laura Evans (speaker), Miranda Evans, Matt Evans, Jonny Evans
Related Symbols: The Ash Cloud
Page Number: 123
Explanation and Analysis:

When Miranda wakes up to a strange gray sky, Laura and Matt explain that volcanoes have been erupting all around the world. The resulting ash cloud from these eruptions has begun to block the sun and will change not only the temperature, but also impact the ability to grow any crops. While Laura has been in survival mode since the day after the asteroid’s collision with the moon, now she informs Miranda that they’ll need to take things to the next level.

Miranda panics at this pronouncement, particularly Laura’s categorization of what’s happened so far as “playacting survival,” because it hasn’t seemed like a game to Miranda and she thought she had been taking it seriously. Once she gets past the sting of that comment, she realizes the truth—things have been bad so far, but they’re only going to get worse.

Chapter 15 Quotes

I’d dream of Paris, of London, of Tokyo. I wanted to go to South America, to Africa. I always assumed I could someday.
But my world keeps getting smaller and smaller. No school. No Pond. No town. No bedroom. Now I don’t even have the view out the windows.
I feel myself shriveling along with my world, getting smaller and harder.

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker), Matt Evans
Related Symbols: Miller’s Pond
Page Number: 236
Explanation and Analysis:

Matt has arranged to get plywood from the black market gang in town. Miranda resents this fact because he didn’t consult her—but more so because he uses this plywood to cover the windows of their house to help insulate it against the bitter cold.

Miranda had already been chafing against the claustrophobia of spending almost all of her time inside her house with just her family for company, and this further narrowing of her world feels catastrophic. While she rarely thinks of the world outside her family and her town, this feels like yet another piece of evidence that she’ll never get to achieve the future she’d always planned on. International travel is impossible in a world where she doesn’t know if other cities even exist anymore—facts that feel less pertinent than the fact that her own bedroom is now too cold for her to live in and her world has shrunk again.

Chapter 17 Quotes

“If we all die, you’ll leave,” I said. “Because you’ll be strong enough to. And maybe someplace in America or Mexico or somewhere things are better and you’ll manage to get there. And then Mom’s life and Matt’s and mine won’t have been a waste.”

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker), Matt Evans, Jonny Evans, Laura Evans
Page Number: 273
Explanation and Analysis:

Miranda is trying to comfort Jonny about what will happen if they all don’t survive. She’s trying to make sense of why everyone in their family insists Jonny eat the most, even though they’re all starving. Much in the way Matt treats her with respect when she asks questions she suspects are ridiculous, Miranda is trying to answer Jonny’s questions with the dignity and seriousness they deserve.

Once Miranda had resented the same plan she now repeats to her brother—she’d been jealous that Jonny was given more food and that her mom had pinned all her hopes on him. Now, however, she embraces it. It’s not that Miranda wants to or expects to die, but she is grateful that if she does, the choices and hunger they’ve faced will give Jonny a chance to leave and survive. She’s started to view him as a part of her legacy. Her sacrifice being the price of his survival is a price that she’s willing to pay.

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Matt Evans Character Timeline in Life as We Knew It

The timeline below shows where the character Matt Evans appears in Life as We Knew It. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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...mom, Laura, is taking her younger brother Jonny to baseball practice and Miranda’s older brother Matt is away at college. Hal is very excited about the new baby, and Miranda tries... (full context)
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...have a “good divorce.” Miranda then thinks more about becoming a godmother, and wonders why Matt and Jonny weren’t asked to be godfathers. She hopes Lisa will change her mind about... (full context)
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...Brandon Erlich’s old coach. Miranda responds by accusing Laura of loving her brothers, Jonny and Matt, more than her—even though she knows this isn’t true. Later that night, she and her... (full context)
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...same moon that people throughout history have shared. She gets permission from her older brother Matt to use his telescope to see the asteroid’s impact. Her family watches the news and... (full context)
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...in general. Miranda is working on her moon assignments in her bedroom when older brother, Matt, calls from college, surprising her because he never calls at 10 pm. He tells Miranda... (full context)
Chapter 2
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...she’d rather watch at home. Their mood is festive as they go outside with binoculars, Matt’s telescope, and a plate of cookies to join their neighbors in a makeshift block party,... (full context)
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...the moon as a whole feels ominous. The attitude in the neighborhood is the panic Matt predicted, and when the Evanses try and call him they can’t get through. TV channels,... (full context)
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Matt calls from a payphone to report that conditions are the same in Ithaca, NY. Laura... (full context)
Chapter 4
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The Evanses have an email from Matt, who tells them his college finals are trickier with the power failures to work around,... (full context)
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...upset that the governor didn’t indicate whether the state sports teams were safe. Miranda wishes Matt were home and thinks things will be better when he arrives. (full context)
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They receive an email from Matt that he’ll be home on Wednesday. Miranda can’t wait, but also recognizes that she’s got... (full context)
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May 25. Miranda begins her journal entry by stating that Matt should’ve been home by now and she, Laura, and Jonny are feeling nervous—especially since it’s... (full context)
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...there the week after next. The journal entry ends abruptly when Miranda hears her brother, Matt, has arrived home from college. (full context)
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May 28. Miranda is relieved that Matt is home. Even though their situation isn’t changed, things seem better with him there to... (full context)
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Attendance is up in school on Thursday. Matt works on Miranda and Jonny’s bikes so they’ll have a way to get to school... (full context)
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Matt tells Miranda that this is a unique time in history when heroes will be made... (full context)
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...on it. Jonny finds that many baseball players are dead, presumed dead, or missing, and Matt looks up the status of classmates from his high school graduating class and finds that... (full context)
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Matt looks up each of their own names on the lists of the dead, but they... (full context)
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May 31. It rains on the first day that there’s no bus service, so Matt drives Miranda and Jonny to school while Laura stays home to work on her book.... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...credit, Laura asks her “What’s the point?” This question leaves Miranda reeling. She seeks out Matt and asks him if their mom thinks they’re going to die. She wants him to... (full context)
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Miranda asks Matt not to treat her like a kid and explain what he and Laura are worried... (full context)
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Matt reassures Miranda that if things go back to normal then colleges will understand why she... (full context)
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...student had given her. Laura sautés them with potatoes and onions and they all share. Matt contributes a chocolate bar he found in his backpack. After supper they sing and Mrs.... (full context)
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Miranda seeks out Matt to ask about heating oil. She learns that they haven’t been able to get any,... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...then Miranda and Jonny will go spend the month of August with Hal and Lisa. Matt is invited but declines because he thinks Laura will need him at home. (full context)
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...that she also wants Miranda to enjoy swimming, the same way Jonny enjoys baseball, and Matt likes running. Laura’s escape is gardening—though this year she’s growing vegetables instead of flowers. (full context)
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June 25. Miranda skips breakfast and stays in her bedroom the next morning. Matt stops by her room to try and convince her to apologize to Laura, and despite... (full context)
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...Miranda has the urge to laugh at the frivolity of his problems, but remembers how Matt respected hers and she responds seriously. When they return home Laura is preparing to bake... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...station where she can buy five gallons for $75. Despite the temperature being near 100, Matt decides it’s time to start chopping firewood and sends Miranda to gather kindling. When she’s... (full context)
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July 3. With Jonny off at camp, Laura suggests that she, Matt, and Miranda cut back to two meals a day. Even Matt is shocked, but he... (full context)
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...up to dry, it starts to rain and storm. Everyone’s tension is high, and when Matt stays out chopping wood despite the storm, Laura and he get in a yelling match... (full context)
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...been having, and the sky is a strange gray—but not cloudy or foggy. Miranda asks Matt and Laura about it, and they tell her that the moon’s increased gravitational pull is... (full context)
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...can’t count on the garden. Laura says she’ll only eat one meal a day and, Matt and Miranda agree to cut back too—fasting one day a week and eating two meals... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...see Dan, but he doesn’t show up. They also haven’t heard from Jonny or Hal. Matt stops running in order to conserve his energy and strength, and because he’s worried about... (full context)
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July 15-17. Despite Miranda, Matt, Laura, and Mrs. Nesbitt’s search efforts, Horton is still missing. Matt warns Miranda that it’s... (full context)
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...back their food intake while he’s been gone. Miranda analyzes Laura’s motives for not sending Matt off on his own, or encouraging Miranda to find a guy to protect her like... (full context)
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...supplies he’s brought. He says he got them from the college where he worked, and Matt is especially excited to see that he’s brought saws. Hal says that while he’s there,... (full context)
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...invite Mrs. Nesbitt and Peter. Miranda delivers the invitations by bike while Hal, Jonny, and Matt work on chopping wood. Miranda learns that Peter has closed his doctor’s practice and is... (full context)
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...could get worse, and Peter says that even then life will go on—in some form—and Matt brings up how insects are around from the dinosaur era. They share a cynical laugh... (full context)
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...is worried about her parents and getting settled before the baby arrives. Hal works with Matt all day to get more firewood, but after dinner he asks Miranda to talk. Hal... (full context)
Chapter 9
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August 7-9. The Evanses are all in short tempers after Hal’s departure. Matt snaps at Miranda for going into his room without permission—revealing that he’s exhausted, hungry, and... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...winter will bring. Also, they’re no longer able to get any signals on the radio. Matt suggests this is because the radio stations ran out of electricity, but Miranda fears it... (full context)
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...she recognizes. Evan Smothers was a classmate of hers and Ryan Miller played sports with Matt. The men are stealing the plywood off the fronts of boarded up stores and then... (full context)
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...but—to Laura’s exasperation—the question causes Miranda to burst into tears and run from the room. Matt comes to find her and she explains to him about the men in town and... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...a meal again until Thursday. Laura also says that she’d been saving the chips for Matt’s upcoming birthday. After Laura’s lecture, Miranda slinks off to her room feeling sick to her... (full context)
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...beans. Then, once her punishment is over, she recounts each meal—including the one to celebrate Matt’s birthday. While there aren’t chocolate chip cookies, Mrs. Nesbitt made oatmeal raisin. Miranda eats one... (full context)
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...the state has restrictions about letting people in—especially if they’re pregnant, and Lisa is showing. Matt translates some of the nuance of the letter for Jonny and Miranda—Hal is looking for... (full context)
Chapter 13
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September 18. Laura trips and sprains her ankle. Since Matt and Jonny are at Mrs. Nesbitt’s house, Miranda has to go by herself to the... (full context)
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September 23. Peter stops by to check Laura’s ankle, which is slowly healing. Miranda tells Matt how much older Peter looks now, and Matt responds that all of his patients are... (full context)
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...and says that her ankle is beginning to mend and she can be more mobile. Matt brings down a typewriter for her because she wants to record old family stories of... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...indication that things are getting worse again. This belief is confirmed when she, Jonny, and Matt go into town and Mrs. Hotchkiss tells them that the library is closing for good. (full context)
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...leave. Jonny wants to go find Hal, even though they don’t know where he is. Matt asserts that they have the greatest chance of surviving where they are—reminding them that the... (full context)
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...world, but since the ash cloud is worsening, they think volcanoes must still be erupting. Matt and Jonny continue to chop wood, despite the worsening air quality. And Miranda is grateful... (full context)
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...decide to cut off their hair because it’s becoming harder and harder to keep clean. Matt and Laura argue over whether or not to use the last of the heating oil.... (full context)
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October 14-15. Matt tells Miranda that Megan and Mrs. Wayne’s names appear on the ‘dead list’ posted in... (full context)
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...She wakes up in the kitchen beside Laura and misses the privacy of her bedroom. Matt volunteers to work at the Post Office on Friday so they don’t have to close.... (full context)
Chapter 15
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November 1. Matt arranges to buy black market plywood, which he uses to cover the windows of the... (full context)
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...water, there’s no reason to use up the heating oil to protect the pipes, so Matt decides they’re all moving into the sunroom. Miranda protests, but is overruled. They’ll live, eat,... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Matt, Jonny, and Miranda make a plan on how to transport the supplies from Mrs. Nesbitt’s... (full context)
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While Jonny and Matt bring Mrs. Nesbitt’s body to the hospital, Laura and Miranda reminisce about Mrs. Nesbitt and... (full context)
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November 18-26. On two consecutive Fridays Matt brings exciting things home from the post office. The first is letter from Hal. Unfortunately,... (full context)
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On the second Friday, Matt brings home Peter and a small black market chicken to celebrate Thanksgiving, which had been... (full context)
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...Nesbitt’s—where, despite it having been ransacked, she finds a set of colored pencils to give Matt for Christmas—and by going skating at Miller’s Pond. Miranda enjoys the time alone, and questions... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...positive, since they can collect it for drinking water. But quickly they become concerned about Matt, who is volunteering at the post office. As the day passes and snow accumulates, Laura... (full context)
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...for supplying water, but not great for the roof or how isolated their house is. Matt comments that their bikes will be useless and there aren’t enough cars to clear the... (full context)
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December 5-7. After being snowed in for a week, Miranda is getting antsy. Matt attempts to use the skis to get into town, but isn’t strong enough, so has... (full context)
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...they’re only eating one meal, he should too, but everyone protests. Miranda thinks that maybe Matt would be the best choice if only one of them were to survive, but knows... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...and holding sing-alongs. They hang up the paintings Mrs. Nesbitt left them and some of Matt’s sketches. Miranda reflects on the year that’s ending with gratitude. While she doesn’t know if... (full context)
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January 1. Matt’s New Year’s resolution is for him, Miranda, and Jonny to become proficient on the cross... (full context)
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January 3-7. Miranda, Jonny, and Matt practice on the skis. This skill feels even more important after their neighbor, Mr. Mortensen,... (full context)
Chapter 19
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January 10. Laura wakes up ill and soon Jonny is screaming in delirium too. Matt says he’ll go get help, but then realizes he can barely stand. Miranda vows to... (full context)
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...chance whether they live or die. Miranda rejects this and skis home in tears, telling Matt “We’re on our own,” before he collapses. She records her thoughts in case she falls... (full context)
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January 11-12. Miranda nurses her mother and brothers with very little change. Matt seems the least sick and she’s hopeful he’ll survive, but Laura and Jonny are too... (full context)
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...wakes up and realizes the sunroom is full of smoke and everyone is choking. With Matt’s help she drags Laura and Jonny into the kitchen, then ventures down in the basement... (full context)
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...are starting to be strong enough to take a few steps, but Miranda worries that Matt damaged his heart when he helped her drag them from the smoky sunroom. Miranda feeds... (full context)
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January 30-February 4. While they’re recovering, Laura has the siblings resume schoolwork. Matt remains too weak to even climb a flight of stairs. This upsets him and he... (full context)
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...celebrated by small tokens of love, like Jonny letting her beat him at chess and Matt walking to and from the stairs. She declares it her best birthday yet. (full context)
Chapter 20
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February 9-18. Miranda and Jonny continue to practice on the skis. Matt works on rebuilding his strength. Laura finds tulip bulbs and roasts them for a special... (full context)
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...to skip eating a few days a week and Miranda agrees, despite the fact that Matt and Jonny will continue to eat one meal daily. Miranda starts to imagine her ideal... (full context)
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...days of food in the pantry if they’re all eating, and two weeks if just Matt and Jonny do. Miranda wonders if it’s easier to stop eating than just have a... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...she’s going to check for a letter from Hal about Lisa’s baby, but privately tells Matt the truth. She tells them all good-bye and begins the long walk through the deep... (full context)
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...promises to come back on Monday with more of the supplies they’re owed. Laura sobs, Matt shakes Mr. Danworth’s hand, and Jonny pokes through the bag as Mr. Danworth reassures them... (full context)
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...Hal, Lisa, the baby, Grandma, Sammi, and Dan, but also on the blessings she has: Matt is climbing more stairs, they have firewood and water, and the temperature has been above... (full context)