Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Life Imitates Art: Getting into books

Life As We Knew It
by Susan Beth Pfeffer
A good book to me is one that grabs me emotionally and makes me feel like I am part of the story. If I can't relate in some way then I usually have a hard time staying focused on the book.

Last year in 7th grade my daughter had to read the apocalyptic novel Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Much to my dismay, my daughter is not a voracious ready. She's not even a casual reader! But she really got into this novel. That peaked my curiosity, so I checked out the audio book from the library, ripped it to my iPod, and listened to the story during my morning jog.

Without giving away too many details from the story (you really need to read it for yourself!), there were descriptions of the family barely surviving on what little food they had. They shared a single can of vegetables between the four of them, went without one or two meals each day in order to stretch their supplies, and became really creative and resourceful in order to survive.

During the time I was listening to the story, my family's budget became very tight. The only place we could cut expenses was in the food budget. At the same time that I listened to Miranda describe her family's meager meals, my wife cut by half or more the amount of groceries she normally buys. My family was scrounging around the pantry for meal ideas with the last few remaining items. My teenagers were complaining, "There's nothing in this house to eat!" My wife was getting more and more creative with what she could make for dinner, given there weren't many options left in the cupboards.

Life imitating art? I felt like I was going through the same experiences as Miranda! Of course the moon was still in it's place. There were no weather related catastrophes to deal with. But Miranda and her family were desperate. I  was getting desperate. I felt like I was living the book!

I mentioned these feelings to my wife. We both laughed about it. And then she listened to the audio book as well. And at the next shopping period the food budget was tight again. My wife described the same feelings I had. During her jog, listening to the story, all she could think about was coming home and looking through the pantry and trying to figure out what to make for dinner. There would not be much grocery shopping and supplies were getting low. But if Miranda and her family could survive, so could we!

We still laugh about how we felt like the story was real for us. It was us living that desperate time - forced to share every scrap of food, wondering where the next one would come from. Using every last little bit of what we had, knowing that we might not be able to go out and buy more.

And that is why I love a good book!

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