Excerpt from Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Life As We Knew It

by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Life As We Knew It
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2006, 352 pages
    May 2008, 360 pages

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I don’t know how interesting it’s really going to be, but compared to everything else in my life, at least it’s something different.

May 17

I got an 82 on my math test. There were at least four questions I should have gotten right but made careless mistakes on.

I know for a fact that Sammi’s mother hasn’t looked at a test result of hers in years, and Megan’s mom has always worried about who Megan hangs out with, but I don’t think she cares all that much about her grades. I had to get stuck with the mother who works at home and has plenty of time to check things out and hover and demand to see tests.

We didn’t have a big fight over it (I did pass, after all), but Mom gave me one of her famous You Shouldn’t Be So Careless lectures, which I get at least once a week and sometimes more than that if the mood strikes her.

Mom said since I’m prone to carelessness, etc., it might be a good idea if I got a head start on all my moon papers, especially since they didn’t have to be about whatever is going to happen tomorrow.

She suggested writing about the 1969 moon landing, so I Googled it, and I found out lots of people didn’t really care that there were men walking on the moon. They all watched Star Trek (the original, old lousy-special-effects Beam Me Up Scotty Star Trek) and they were used to seeing Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock hopping around the universe so real people walking on the real moon wasn’t as exciting.

I think that’s funny. Men were walking on the moon for the very first time in history and people preferred watching Dr. McCoy say, “He’s dead, Jim,” for the thousandth time.

I wasn’t exactly sure how to turn that into a paper, so Mom and I talked about it, about how fiction can have more power than reality and how in 1969 there was a lot of cynicism because of Vietnam and the sixties and all that and there were people who didn’t think men were really on the moon and thought it was a hoax.

I think I’ll do my French paper on what happens tomorrow night, because my French isn’t good enough for stuff like hoaxes and cynicism. For English I’m focusing on how fiction can be more exciting than reality and for history I’ll focus on how people in the ’60s were cynical about what the government told them.

I told Mom that Sammi said it was sure to rain tomorrow night because it always rains when something important is supposed to happen in the sky and she laughed and said she had never known a more pessimistic 15-year-old.

I’ll be at Dad’s when Sammi turns 16. I have a feeling if she has a party, it’ll be all boys, so it probably won’t matter.

Around 10, something kind of odd happened. I was working on my paper and Mom was arguing with Jonny about going to bed, when the phone rang. We never get calls that late, so we all jumped. I got to the phone first and it was Matt.

“Are you okay?” I asked him. Matt never calls that late and he pretty much never calls on a weekday night.

“I’m fine,” he said. “I just wanted to hear your voices.”

I told Mom it was Matt. Jonny took the kitchen phone and she used the one in her bedroom. We told him what was going on (I complained about my three moon papers), and he told us about what he has left to do at school. Then he and Mom talked about the arrangements for him to get home.

This was all perfectly normal stuff, but it didn’t feel right. Jonny hung up first and then Mom, and I managed to get Matt to stay on a minute longer.

“Are you sure everything’s okay?” I asked him.

He paused for a moment. “I have a funny feeling,” he said. “I guess it’s this moon business.”

Excerpted from Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Copyright © 2006 by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Excerpted by permission of Harcourt Trade Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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