On My Bookshelf: The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

July 10, 2017

In The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer, when an asteroid hits the moon and sets off horrific climate change, Alex's parents go missing and his oldest brother is away serving in the Marines. Alex must become the man of the house and make the decisions that will determine whether he and his two younger sisters will survive. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon:  Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It enthralled and devastated readers with its brutal but hopeful look at an apocalyptic event—an asteroid hitting the moon, setting off a tailspin of horrific climate changes. Now this harrowing companion novel examines the same events as they unfold in New York City, revealed through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Puerto Rican Alex Morales. When Alex's parents disappear in the aftermath of tidal waves, he must care for his two younger sisters, even as Manhattan becomes a deadly wasteland, and food and aid dwindle. With haunting themes of family, faith, personal change, and courage, this powerful novel explores how a young man takes on unimaginable responsibilities.

Why I liked it: The Dead and the Gone is the follow up to Life As We Knew It. I loved the first novel
In The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer, when an asteroid hits the moon and sets off horrific climate change, Alex's parents go missing and his oldest brother serving in the Marines. Alex must become the man of the house and make the decisions that will determine whether he and his two younger sisters will survive. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
and I'm not sure why it took me so long to read the second. Life As We Knew It was set in fairly rural Pennsylvania, while The Dead and the Gone is set in New York City. Both are centered around the same apocalyptic event, but the different settings lead to very different experiences for the main characters. Alex's father in in Puerto Rico with no way to reach him and he loses contact with his mother, even though she is working in the same city. With his parents missing and his oldest brother serving in the Marines, Alex becomes the man of the house and must make the decisions that will determine whether he and his two younger sisters will survive.


Classroom application: The Dead and the Gone is definitely worth adding to your classroom library for middle or high school students, although death and violence play a larger role in this novel than they did in Life As We Knew It. As a second book in a series, it is just as good as the first , and students would want to read the rest of the four book series.

This novel would be a perfect choice for literature circles themed around natural disasters, real or imagined. Cross-disciplinary connections could also be made with science while reading The Dead and the Gone. Students could research the effects of the moon on Earth (tides, plate-tectonics, stability on its axis, etc.) and how being closer to or farther from the moon would impact life on Earth. Other possible research topics would be natural disasters throughout history and the asteroids/meteors that have actually landed on Earth. Students could interview individuals who work in disaster relief or emergency preparedness to evaluate the accuracy and likelihood of events in the novel.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Dead and the Gone for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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