Excerpt from Let's Call It a Doomsday by Katie Henry, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Let's Call It a Doomsday

by Katie Henry

Let's Call It a Doomsday by Katie  Henry X
Let's Call It a Doomsday by Katie  Henry
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2019, 400 pages
    Aug 2020, 416 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Catherine M Andronik
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Print Excerpt

Mom raises her eyebrows. "I thought you wanted to be a nurse."

"Yeah, but I don't know, you have to be inside all day."

"Didn't you want to be a garbage truck driver?" Dad says, and Em groans.

"Ugh, Dad, when I was, like, six."

"Why a wildlife biologist?" I ask her. "I mean, it's cool, but why?"

"I watched this thing on YouTube about this lady wildlife biologist who lived out in the Canadian wilderness for years tracking this wolf pack," Em says, "and she eventually made friends with them and became, like, a member of the pack and—it was so cool. She wasn't studying them, she was part of them, you know?"

"I bet she didn't have any children," Mom says. Dad clears his throat.

"Maybe," Em says. "She didn't say. What's it matter?"

"I think it would be very hard to do something like that and raise children, too."

Emmy's knife squeaks against her plate. "Maybe I won't have kids."

Dad looks at Mom. Mom looks at Em. "Don't be silly, you love babies."

"Well, you just said I can't do both."

"That's not what I said. You weren't listening closely."

"Lisa," Dad says.

"I said it would be very hard," Mom says. "You'd have to think carefully about what was important to you. Or most important to you. And I don't really think that's following wolves around, but I could be wrong."

Em's mouth twists. "It was just an idea."

"It's a great idea," I jump in. Mom's always on me to hold people's tiny, extremely breakable babies, but that's because she knows I don't want to. Em's always wanted to cuddle newborns and wipe snot off toddlers' faces. Why does Mom push like this when she doesn't even have to?

"Emmy," Dad says. "It's okay. You're thirteen. Don't worry about this right now."

Em stabs at her lasagna with a fork. Mom touches her shoulder.

"I didn't mean anything by it," Mom says, and Em smiles. But she smiles like she thinks she's supposed to. Not because what Mom said didn't hurt.

"You know what we should really be worrying about," I say. "Emergency food storage."

Em frowns. Mom closes her eyes.

"You don't need to worry about that, either," Dad assures Em, who's closely watching Mom's reaction.

"No one's going to get to live with wolves or have babies if we can't get through an earthquake," I say.

"Okay," Dad says. "Let's not do this tonight."

"We only have three months' worth of food."

"That's enough," Mom says, and I don't know whether she means that's enough out of me, or that we have enough food.

"Bad things can happen," I say. "They do. And when people aren't prepared, they suffer. I don't want to us to suffer, what's so terrible about that?"

Em looks to Dad. He sighs. "No one is saying it's bad to be prepared, but we are, and the more you obsess over this, the worse it gets for you—"

"The worse it gets for all of us," Mom cuts in. "It's not only about her."

You'd think I was holding them at gunpoint or forcing them to eat dirt. All I want is to make sure we survive. All of us, together.

"What do you think's going to happen?" Em says with a tilt of her head.

Biological weapons released into the air. Superviruses that can't be cured. Terror attacks at the university, at my school, on the Golden Gate Bridge. I open my mouth to answer.

She's a kid. She's your little sister. You want her to have nightmares? You want her to start checking for fire exits whenever she walks in a room? You want her to be like you?

I shrug. "Earthquakes."

Mom and Dad share a look. They know it's more than that, but I doubt they want Em to know about it, either.

"We're perfectly prepared for an earthquake," Mom says. "A power outage, a fire—this is California. We don't have hurricanes, we don't have tornadoes or snowstorms. We. Are. Prepared."

Excerpted from Let's Call It a Doomsday by Katie Henry. Copyright © 2019 by Katie Henry. Excerpted by permission of Katherine Tegan Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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