Life as We Knew It


Susan Pfeffer

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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.

Survival and Death

At its core, Life As We Knew It is a story about what it takes to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. After an asteroid collision alters the rotational path of the moon, the world is faced with tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, drastic climate change, and other catastrophes. The main characters: Miranda, her mother, Laura, and two brothers, Jonny and Matt, face immense and ever-changing dangers as they struggle to adapt to an…

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Currency, Commodities, and Value

The start of the book, which occurs before the asteroid strike, portrays “life as we knew it,” and what is seen as valuable seems familiar and normal to the average American reader. Most obviously, money is used as currency—and even in the days just after the disaster, cash is the only thing people will accept. Meanwhile, Miranda, the teenage girl protagonist, values school, grades, friends, boys, and ice skating. After the disaster, however, things…

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As the world around them becomes increasingly unpredictable and unstable, the beliefs of the survivors are constantly challenged. With the escalating uncertainty and corrosion of fundamental beliefs, the characters search for other answers to fill the voids and answer their questions.

Several characters, most notably Miranda’s friend Megan, turn to religion to give them stability in the face of their anxieties. They express deep conviction that the moon strike and resulting damages are…

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As Miranda and the others come to grips with their own mortality and the very real chance they might not survive, they grapple with the idea of legacy, what is or is not left behind to represent their lives. A number of characters in the novel seek to create a kind of artistic legacy, a record to capture what they think and experience in the catastrophe, from Mrs. Nesbitt’s photographs, to Matt’s sketches…

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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…

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