I was looking for fuel for the raging reading inferno that is my 11 year old daughter when I came across Suey’s 2008 Top 10 list. In the number one slot for YA and JF (Junior Fiction) was Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I’ve seen that title around so I thought I’d investigate. After reading the description on amazon and seeing that the appropriate age was 6th-8th grade, I decided to get it. My local library didn’t have it, but I had a $5 Borders reward to spend, so I placed it on hold through their website and we drove over to get it.
I’d told my kids before we went into the store that we were just going in to pick up the book and that if they wanted anything else, they’d have to use their own money (they are loaded with birthday and Christmas money but have deposited most of it in the bank). I’m not playing the “I’ll pay you back” game anymore. In line at Borders, there were tons of gift books and Christmas clearance items stacked up, 30% off. Things like “Animal Art” complete with colored pencils, and “How to Draw Faces”, and a “Rock Art” set with paints- just the kind of things my kids love. And then, *cue the angels* my daughter saw a calligraphy set with markers of varying width- $7.99 marked down from $12.99. She is fascinated by this style of writing, but I stuck to my guns and said, “You can come back with your own money.” Having left her purse in the car, she looked at me with horror, but I said, “We talked about this before we came in, remember?” I’m doing my best to teach them the value of a buck.
Back in the car, she frantically went through her little purse to see if she had enough. I reminded her about tax, which sent her into a frenzy of counting pennies. I had to chip in 64 cents (I’m not made of stone!) but she was able to pull it all together, mostly in quarters, and she ran back in to buy her book. The line was long so it took another 15 minutes, during which time I decided to open up Life As We Knew It.
I was immediately drawn in, but very early on I decided this wasn’t going to be a book for my daughter. On page 5 a joke is made about a high school girl named Samantha. Rather than call her boy crazy or promiscuous, they say, “Well, there’s always a man in SaMANtha” and then there’s a short discourse about sex before marriage. So, no. I don’t want my girl thinking high schoolers are running around having sex right and left, even if they are. I couldn’t let my 11 year old read the book until I discovered just how raunchy it would get. I’m happy to report that the incident on page 5 was the only objectionable sexual reference in the book (makes me wonder why they even put that in).
I told my daughter I wanted to look the book over a little more before she read it. I’m not sure she even heard me as she was in rapture over her calligraphy kit and had already pulled out the pens to admire them. “Look how cool the pens are! Aren’t they great, Mom?” I know she’ll value this little kit more because she bought it with her own money than if I had just put it on the counter and handed over my credit card.
Our next stop was the mall. My girls received Claire’s gift cards in their stockings and were itching to spend them. While they browsed and weighed the value of hair accessories vs. toe socks, I sat on a bench and read Life As We Knew It. 40 minutes later, when they emerged with their purchases, apologetic for taking so long and excitedly chatty about how they spent their $10 gift cards, it was all I could do to tear myself away.
I read in the food court while the girls stood in line at Chic-Fil-A and Sbarro. I read while they ate and people watched. I read while they applied makeup (“Is it ok, Mom?” “What? Huh? Oh, sure, go ahead.”) I read in the car at red lights. I got home and read while the kids ran down the street to rake leaves at a neighbors’ house ($1 a bag). I read while my husband took the outdoor Christmas lights down and asked, “Weren’t you planning to take down the tree?”. I read as I answered, “Tomorrow”. I read as I made dinner and while everyone ate. I read while the kids did calligraphy and watched a movie and put themselves to bed. I read as my husband made mad, passionate love to me. Ha Ha. Ok that didn’t actually happen, but I definitely was that distracted by this book! I read straight through the news and Saturday Night Live, but started slowing down as I neared the last few pages, not wanting it to end. At 12:05 I closed the book, teary eyed but happy.
Life As We Knew It. Great book. Just make sure to clear your schedule if you decide to pick it up.
Enjoy your Sunday!
Filed under: Book Reviews, books, Family, kids, parenting, reading, sunday salon, weekends Tagged: | Book Reviews, books, fiction, JF, kids, life as we knew it, preteens, reading, sunday salon, susan beth pfeffer, YA