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The Dead & the Gone    by Susan Beth Pfeffer order for
Dead & the Gone
by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2008 (2008)

* *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

This companion novel to Life As We Know It takes place in Manhattan during the same time period. After an asteroid hits the moon, causing catastrophic climatic changes, New Yorkers must decide whether to stay or abandon their city.

Seventeen-year-old Alex Morales and his sisters find themselves alone in their basement apartment in the aftermath of tidal waves. Their father, the superintendent of the building, is away in Puerto Rico for his mother's funeral. Their mother never returns from her job at a hospital in Queens. Alex has no way to reach his father, but they know the island was hit hard by the tidal waves. For as long as they can, Alex and his two younger sisters continue to hope that their parents are alive and will soon be able to return home. At last Alex forces himself to view unidentified bodies in Yankee Stadium, not sure which is worse - finding his mother or not finding her.

Meanwhile, every day brings new challenges. The electricity rarely works. Food is scarce and getting scarcer. When the church offers his middle sister Bri a place in a convent in upper New York state, Alex must decide whether keeping their remaining family together is as important as allowing her to go to a place that promises more food and safety than she can get in the city.

Everyone who is able to is deserting the city. Even his uncle's family is leaving. They ask to take his younger sister Julie, and once again Alex must make a critical life or death decision. His church and school offer some comfort, but they too are preparing to close. He soldiers on, knowing that he must allow nothing to come before his responsibility to his family. Though the excitement of Life As We Know It is missing in this second book, Alex's remarkable courage and faith in a world that is falling apart make a good story.

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