Life as We Knew It

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Perspective Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
 Survival and Death  Theme Icon
 Currency, Commodities, and Value  Theme Icon
 Faith  Theme Icon
 Legacy  Theme Icon
 Perspective  Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Life as We Knew It, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
 Perspective  Theme Icon

Life as We Knew It is told in “epistolary” form, through the entries of Miranda’s diary. This format is often used in novels featuring teen protagonists like I Capture the Castle, Go Ask Alice, The Princess Diaries, and Absolutely Normal Chaos. It’s chosen as a way to enhance the realism of the narrative—to create a stronger connection with the character’s thoughts and feelings, though it also presents a unique set of limitations as well.

Since the story is told through Miranda’s journal, many of her thoughts and beliefs are recorded, but never verified or challenged, and are unreliable because of the things she does not know and the things she is too scared to ask. For example, Miranda frequently posits that her mother is ‘betting on’ Jonny and Matt’s survival more than her own. Miranda offers evidence of this via her observations and personal choices, but never directly affirms this with her mother, Laura. Emotion also often clouds Miranda’s thoughts, and her descriptions of fights with her mother or kissing Dan by Miller’s Pond impact the tone and mood of the narrative. Furthermore, as her food supply and energy dwindle, Miranda begins to second-guess her own thoughts: Did she really see figure skater Brandon Erlich at the pond, or did she fantasize it?

Because Miranda is recording the events of her life as they occur—without the distance of time or a wider perspective—her newest entries constantly redefine those that came before. She often retrospectively realizes that her evaluation of previous situations was inaccurate based on what she now knows in her current reality. For instance, when her mother sprains her ankle for the first time, Miranda assumes that this is the worst thing that could occur (and in general she uses the words “best” and “worst” quite liberally), yet when her mother re-sprains her ankle at a time when their situation is more dire, she reflects back on her previous thoughts and reevaluates them.

In addition, with limited news reaching their family, Miranda often loses perspective of the larger world. Her concerns must focus on the immediacy of her own needs and those around her. As she says, “[W]ithout hearing what’s going on in the real world, it’s easy to think there is no real world anymore, that Howell, PA, is the only place left on earth.” The lack of reliable sources of news, compounded by Miranda’s own needs not being met, means that she often lacks the energy to care or consider the well-being of those outside her immediate sphere. As the struggle for survival overtakes both Miranda and the rest of the world, her perspective is forced to narrow.

The appearance of truth created through Miranda’s diary entries is counterbalanced by the insular nature of her experiences following the asteroid crash. The realism and intimacy of her writing can also create a false sense of security, lulling the reader into forgetting how influenced this story is by Pfeffer’s choice of narrator and method of narration. It is important to consider that Life As We Knew It is really the story of life as Miranda knew it, and not a global or objective perspective at all.

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Perspective ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Perspective appears in each Chapter of Life as We Knew It. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Perspective Quotes in Life as We Knew It

Below you will find the important quotes in Life as We Knew It related to the theme of Perspective .
Chapter 1 Quotes

They said asteroids hit the moon pretty often, which is how the moon gets its craters, but this one is going to be the biggest asteroid ever to hit it and on a clear night you should be able to see the impact when it happens... They made it sound pretty dramatic, but I still don’t think it’s worth three homework assignments.

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Moon
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

Miranda is detailing how newscasters discuss the impending asteroid collision with the surface of the moon. It’s been getting a lot of news coverage and has generated a lot of school assignments from her teachers. Miranda, who is finishing up her sophomore year in high school, is both pleased by anything that brings excitement and novelty to her life, but also highly skeptical that this asteroid is going to live up to the hype.

This quote is heavy on the foreshadowing, because while all of the predictions about the asteroid’s size and impact turn out to be true, no one had any idea of the result of the collision. What she’s calling ‘dramatic’ turns out to be not laughable in the face of the real reaction caused by the asteroid. And the homework assignments that Miranda bemoans will soon be rendered unnecessary and laughable, because the priorities of society as a whole will shift away from education and toward survival.

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Chapter 2 Quotes

Sometimes when Mom is getting ready to write a book she says she doesn’t know where to start, that the ending is so clear to her that the beginning doesn’t seem important anymore. I feel that way now only I don’t know what the ending is, not even what the ending is tonight.

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker), Laura Evans
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

Miranda is writing in her diary after the asteroid’s collision with the moon, and even though the collision has happened and the day is over, she’s struggling with how to gather her thoughts and put them in context. Her comparison to the way in which Laura writes novels is apt, because Miranda is recognizing that the details she thought were important and relevant that morning have been rendered obsolete by the events of the night. Despite this, Miranda recounts her entire day in her journal, even the parts that no longer seem important. She does this to create context for the events of the night and also as a delay tactic, since she’s not quite ready to process what has just happened. The fact that Miranda doesn’t know what will happen next has left her shaken, and even the act of writing about it doesn’t bring the comfort she craves.

Chapter 3 Quotes

Somehow I’d forgotten there were other countries, that we shared the moon with other countries.

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Moon
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

In the aftermath of the moon’s collision, Miranda struggles to make sense of everything that has gone on—the loss of electricity, the massive loss of lives along both coasts of America. She’s heard the reports on the news and heard directly from her brother Matt and her father. These facts, however, don’t feel real yet, because other than the moon’s strange appearance and the inconsistent electricity, they haven’t impacted her personal life. Even less important to her is the idea that other countries’ survival is affected. Miranda had always hoped to travel abroad, but had never gotten the chance. The idea that these countries, which were already less concrete in her mind, were as impacted by the asteroid strike as the United States feels surreal to Miranda. This line reads as self-absorbed, but it’s also because she’s so overwhelmed by what’s going on in her immediate vicinity that Miranda hasn’t had a chance to process or reflect on what’s happening outside her sphere.

Chapter 4 Quotes

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 5 Quotes

“There are lots of different ways to be hungry, you know. Some people are hungry for food and others are hungry for God’s love.” She gave me a look then, pure Megan, to let me know which camp I fell into.

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker), Megan Wayne (speaker)
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:

Megan and Miranda have very different ways of reacting to the moon’s collision with the asteroid. While Miranda finds comfort in being with the people she loves, Megan becomes even more involved with her church. Both of these are exaggerations of their pre-moon priorities: Miranda has always been family oriented, and Megan’s participation with church youth group activities had already tested their friendship.

Here, however, is a time where Megan’s judgment is turned against Miranda. Prior to this, it was their friend Sammi and her dating life that had been the usual target of Megan’s religious scorn. In this dialogue, however, Megan is lashing out against Miranda’s concern that she isn’t eating enough. Miranda believes it’s foolish for Megan to be sharing her sandwich at lunch when food is so scarce. Megan, however, views this as an opportunity to demonstrate her Christ-like generosity. Their different perspectives escalate into a disagreement, one that will plague their relationship until Megan dies—having starved to death while still insisting it is God’s will she do so.

“I’m the one not caring. I’m the one pretending the earth isn’t shattering all around me because I don’t want it to be... I don’t want anything more to be afraid of. I didn’t start this diary for it to be a record of death.”

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker)
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:

Miranda has seemingly reached her tolerance threshold for disaster and bad news. Rather than compulsively seek out information like they all had in the days after the quake, Miranda has now begun to try and insulate herself from new information. She berates herself for this action, and for the numbness she’s begun to feel—comparing her reactions to those of her family and other people around her, and judging herself as lacking because she isn’t exhibiting the same types of compassion she attributes to everyone else.

While Miranda criticizes herself for “not caring,” she fails to recognize just how human her reactions are. Her responses to the incremental traumas of the past few weeks have actually resulted in a normal self-preservation response. The fact that the very next day she gets so excited about the idea of a blanket drive to help those in New York and New Jersey proves just how inaccurate her self-reflection is—she isn’t devoid of compassion, she actually cares a great deal, and it was simply the lack of an outlet for those feelings that led her to shut down emotionally.

Chapter 6 Quotes

Watching sitcoms was like eating toast. Two months ago, it was so much a part of my life I didn’t even notice it. But now it feels like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy and the Wizard of Oz all rolled into one.

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker)
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:

As power outages continue and their supplies dwindle, Miranda’s perspective changes. Things that she had once taken for granted are now the focus of her appreciation. In this scene, Laura has made bread with some forgotten yeast. Since the electricity cooperated and stayed on for an extended period of time, the family celebrates by toasting a piece of bread to share and watching not news and the lists of the dead like they typically do, but sitcoms. A shared piece of toast and reruns would not have brought Miranda joy before the asteroid’s collision, but now her perspective has shifted and she’s able to feel almost euphoric about these simple pleasures. Her comparison between sitcoms and toast and Santa and the other characters is significant. Like the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy, a world in which toast and TV can be taken for granted feels like a childlike fantasy—both innocent and unrealistic.

“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 8 Quotes

I know Dan thinks I’m lucky that I’ve been “untouched” by everything that’s happened. And I know I’m self-pitying to think otherwise. But sometimes I wonder if the big cannonball horror of knowing someone you love has died is all that much worse than the everyday attrition of life.

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker), Dan
Page Number: 150
Explanation and Analysis:

Throughout the novel Miranda is constantly creating comparisons to determine if’s she good enough, brave enough, strong enough, moral enough. Here, she has just said goodbye to the boy she’s been seeing throughout the summer, and she wonders if she’s suffered “enough.” Dan is leaving town—leaving his parents behind as he goes to find somewhere where conditions are better. His sister’s name had shown up on the lists of the dead, and his mother is in the hospital. He’s not sure if she’ll make it. His comment about Miranda being “lucky” not to have known anyone who has died yet sits uncomfortably with Miranda, and for once she isn’t devaluing her own experiences and worth. In this case she is acknowledging the pain of having lost a loved one, but also respecting the constant emotions of spending each day of hardships with the people you love—and the accumulative fear of waiting and worrying that something will happen to them.

Chapter 10 Quotes

I write stuff down in here and I don’t read it. Things are bad enough without having to remind myself of just how bad things are.
But I just read what I wrote a couple of days ago. All about how wonderful school is and all that crap. Tests. Whoo-whoo. Report cards. Whoo-whoo. The future. Biggest whoo-whoo of them all.

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker)
Page Number: 168
Explanation and Analysis:

Miranda has repeatedly stated that her journal is an ongoing record, not something she re-reads, or has any desire to re-read. But in this entry Miranda does look back to what she had written a few days before—when she had been cautiously optimistic about school and looking forward to the purpose it would give to her days. She had stated that no one talks about the future for fear of jinxing it—and that fear had turned out to be prescient, because she’s just returned from a meeting where it was announced the schools won’t be opening as usual this year.

Miranda records a dramatic change in her perspective, one that occurred over the course of just a few days. Having dared to hope, she’s opened herself up to the possibility of disappointment, a possibility that has manifested. All those times where people reassured her that things would be back to normal ‘by fall’ have proved to be false. And school as she knew it is unlikely to occur again.

But without hearing what’s going on in the real world, it’s easy to think there is no more real world anymore, that Howell, PA, is the only place left on earth.
What if there is no more New York or Washington or LA? I can’t even imagine a London or Paris or Moscow anymore.
How will we know? I don’t even know what time it is anymore.

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker)
Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:

The radio stations are no longer broadcasting. Miranda’s family still has batteries, but there is nothing to listen to and Matt points out that the stations must have run out of fuel for their generators. Without any source of news from the outside world, it’s hard for Miranda to remember that it still exists at all. Her perspective within this entry vacillates from the local to global, then back to local.

It’s hard for her to picture life beyond the boundaries of her town, and as the narrative progresses and the Evans family is snowbound, those boundaries will shrink to just her property. Since she can’t even count on receiving news from her father, Sammi, Dan, or anyone else who is traveling within her country, it’s impossible for her to imagine life internationally. At times this means Miranda can dream that other locations are untouched by these disasters, but more often it manifests as her forgetting they even exist. The concerns at home are too pressing and immediate for her to have time for worrying about foreign countries full of people she’s never met.

The final beat of this entry, about Miranda no longer knowing the time, feels disconnected with the rest of the complaints, until viewed in the larger picture of her disorientation. Without the sunlight to orient her to day and night and with her watch having stopped, Miranda can’t tell the difference in time of day—a fundamental that she’s depended on and taken for granted, in the same way she’s always taken for granted that a larger world exists. Neither of those is certain anymore.

Chapter 13 Quotes

But for that one moment I felt so weak, so helpless. I felt nothing but fear and despair and the most awful need to be anyplace else. I told myself it was hunger, but I knew that was a lie.
As long as Mom was all right, I could fool myself into thinking we’d all be all right. But even though I knew Mom could have fallen anytime and sprained her ankle anytime, this felt as though it was the beginning of the end.

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker), Laura Evans
Page Number: 206
Explanation and Analysis:

Laura has sprained her ankle and Peter has directed her to keep all weight off of it while it heals. In the grand scheme of things nothing dire has happened—Laura will recover and Jonny, Matt, and Miranda are capable of taking care of the chores by themselves, but this event shakes Miranda to her core. Part of this is that when Miranda biked to the hospital to seek help from Peter, she was denied entrance by armed guards who got twisted pleasure from her despair and discomfort. If it weren’t for Matt’s arrival and his acquaintance with one of the guards, they would not have been allowed to contact Peter at all, and Miranda didn’t think she had the strength to bike back home. This terrifies Miranda, as it’s a complete shake-up of the world she’s grown up in—one in which you can depend on hospitals for help and people don’t enjoy others’ pain.

But the bigger issue that Miranda’s reacting to is how this accident reveals the family’s fragility. It makes her aware that anything could go wrong at any moment, and while they’ve been surviving day-to-day, next time something goes wrong it could be much, much worse. It is the unknown and the potential that Miranda’s reacting to, instead of the actual events of the day.

Chapter 14 Quotes

I know it shouldn’t bother me but it does. I can see Mom’s upset, too, even though she’s acting like she isn’t. I guess it’s because things have been kind of level for awhile, and now they’re worse again. Not big bad worse...but worse anyway.

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker), Laura Evans
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:

The natural gas has run out in the Evanses’ home. This won’t be a catastrophic event for them the way it will be for many of the people in their community, because they still have a woodstove that they can use for heat and cooking. But despite having been warned that this day is coming, its arrival catches Miranda and Laura off guard. In their fragile state of survival, any change is significant, and a change that makes their life more difficult is very upsetting. Miranda keeps waiting for things to get better, yet the months and seasons keep passing without improvement—in fact, conditions have deteriorated, and with every indication that they’ll only continue to get worse.

Chapter 15 Quotes

I’ve never really thought about what it would be like to be an old woman. Of course nowadays I’m not sure I’ll live long enough to be any kind of woman.
But I hope when I get closer to death, however old I might be, that I can face it with courage and good sense the way Mrs. Nesbitt does. I hope that’s a lesson I’ve truly learned.

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker), Mrs. Nesbitt
Page Number: 234
Explanation and Analysis:

Once Laura is confined to their home due to her sprained ankle, the task of visiting their neighbor, Mrs. Nesbitt, becomes another of Miranda’s chores. Since Mrs. Nesbitt has been like a member of Miranda’s family, when she starts to matter-of-factly discuss her death and the things she’d like done after she’s passed, Miranda is understandably shaken.

She quickly comes to realize, however, how Mrs. Nesbitt’s plans are an act of love and a blessing. Mrs. Nesbitt doesn’t want the others to worry after she’s gone. She doesn’t want her body to be a burden, and she wants to make sure her belongings and supplies go where they’ll be of the most use. Unlike Miranda’s friend Megan, who not only embraced death, but actively sought it, Mrs. Nesbitt has no desire to rush her demise. She simply knows that it’s inevitable and accepts that fact with calm certainty.

Miranda does internalize these lessons, and when things become grim and her own survival seems unlikely, she faces it with stoicism and courage.

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.

“But as long as we don’t know what the future is going to bring us, we owe it to ourselves to keep living. Things could get better. Somewhere people are working on solutions to all this. They have to be. It’s what people do. And our solution is to stay alive one day at a time. Everyone dies in increments, Miranda. Every day we’re one day closer to death. But there’s no reason to rush into it. I intend to stay alive as long as I possibly can and I expect the same from you.”

Related Characters: Laura Evans (speaker), Miranda Evans
Page Number: 238
Explanation and Analysis:

Laura delivers this pep talk in response to Miranda’s reaction to the pronouncement that the whole family will be moving to the sunroom to preserve what little is left of the heating oil. Miranda, who rather stoically endures the hardships of starvation and other difficulties, cannot handle this loss of privacy. She’s already been feeling overwhelmed by her lack of personal space, and this move to share a room with three other people removes even the illusion of it. In her emotional outburst, she doesn’t see the point in attempting to survive because everything about living feels insurmountable.

Laura’s speech is counterpoint to this; she provides optimism in a global sense, which contrasts directly with Miranda’s feelings about her world shrinking. Laura posits that somewhere people are working on a solution—that somewhere there is hope and progress being made and all they need to do is endure until it happens.

Chapter 17 Quotes

Every day when I got to sleep I think what a jerk I was to have felt sorry for myself the day before. My Wednesdays are worse than my Tuesdays, my Tuesdays way worse than my Tuesday of a week before. Which means every tomorrow is going to be worse than every today. Why feel sorry for myself today when tomorrow’s bound to be worse?

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker)
Page Number: 275
Explanation and Analysis:

Miranda’s diary entries are a reflection of her constantly shifting experiences and perspective. While she’s frequently moved to recount some small joy or simple moment that happened throughout the day, the general shift in tone is toward a greater bleakness. Despite the quiet moments of laughter and love with her family, the situation has not improved. Each day there is less food in their pantry, and each week seems to bring new threats or fears—injuries, illnesses, the danger of the roof collapsing or being snowed in during an emergency. Miranda’s journal entry here is neither a celebration nor a complaint: it’s resignation. She doesn’t see the point in complaining about the hardships of her days, because she realizes how quickly her perspective is changing—and what had seemed insurmountable a week ago will likely feel like a triviality compared to whatever challenge she has to face next.

Chapter 18 Quotes

We hugged each other and said we should see more of each other, but I doubt that we will. We don’t want anyone else to know how much food we have or firewood. And they don’t want us to know, either.

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker)
Page Number: 280
Explanation and Analysis:

When Miranda and her family join their neighbors in caroling on Christmas Eve, it is the first time they have gathered since the impromptu block party to watch the asteroid collision. And the circumstances are incredibly different—that night started festive and turned to panic, and this night their spirits started bleak and were cheered by the knowledge that they aren’t alone. And though Miranda has repeatedly expressed how tired she is of spending time with just her brothers and mother, and as much as she enjoys seeing that they are not the only people still alive in the neighborhood, Miranda is quick to clarify that she doesn’t foresee them socializing again any time soon. There’s too much at stake, and too much they’re keeping hidden—mainly what they have for supplies and their chances of survival. Miranda appreciates these neighbors in abstract—as in, she’s grateful they’re not the last people alive, but she doesn’t want to get to know them personally. For her right now, her family is enough, and much like Laura had told her when Miranda started seeing Dan over the summer, Miranda now realizes that forming relationships with other people would only endanger her family’s survival.

Do people ever realize how precious life is? I know I never did before. There was always time. There was always a future.
Maybe because I don’t know anymore if there is a future, I’m grateful for the good things that have happened to me this year.

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker)
Page Number: 287
Explanation and Analysis:

It seems almost ridiculous for Miranda to spend her New Year’s Eve expressing gratitude for the previous year. Since the asteroid’s collision in May, her life has only gotten increasingly painful and more difficult. But despite this—in fact, because of this, Miranda has come to appreciate aspects of life that she’d taken for granted before the disaster. Miranda no longer takes anything for granted, not even her life or the idea that she’ll have a future. Instead she’s taken to using her diary not only to chronicle her hardships and complaints, but also the simple joys she experiences with her family—sharing stories, playing poker and Scrabble, things that make their cat purr, joking about the horrible haircuts they’ve given each other to help stay clean, ice skating, etc. Her change in perspective reflects the fact that she knows they may not survive, so she wants to make the most of the time she does have with the people she loves.

Chapter 21 Quotes

I’d left a record. People would know I had lived. That counted for a lot.

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker)
Page Number: 330
Explanation and Analysis:

At this point Miranda has resigned herself to the fact that she won’t survive. And much like she admired Mrs. Nesbitt’s courage and dignity in the way she faced her death in Chapter 15, Miranda is now trying to come to terms with her own mortality. One of the ways she justifies this to herself is by reflecting on her journal. Unlike Mrs. Nesbitt, who had burned all of her journals and letters before death, Miranda finds comfort in the idea that her words could outlive her. As she walks to what she believes will be her death, she is grateful for the journal’s existence—and the fact that it proves her own existence. She’s struggled so hard to survive since the moon incident and overcome so much, and the idea that people could read about her life and she wouldn’t be forgotten, wouldn’t be just another name on the list of the dead, is something that brings her comfort.

But today, when I am 17 and warm and well fed, I’m keeping this journal for myself so that I can always remember life as we knew it, life as we know it, for a time when I am no longer in the sunroom.

Related Characters: Miranda Evans (speaker)
Page Number: 337
Explanation and Analysis:

Throughout the novel Miranda has questioned the purpose behind her journal. She has objected to it being a record of the dead, thought of it as a record she’s kept to be read by the survivors, something to keep away from nosy little brothers, and documents that proved her existence. As the book ends, however, Miranda spends its concluding lines redefining what the journal means. She no longer pictures it as an artifact for someone else—Miranda has now embraced her journal as something she’s keeping for herself. This is the ultimate act of hope, because it requires Miranda to change her perspective on her own mortality, a complete shift from earlier in the same chapter when she was convinced that she would die. Now Miranda is determined to live, determined to celebrate the moments of her life, and determined to reach a future where she no longer lives within the confines of the sunroom and can look back and reflect on how far she’s come.