Meg Little Reilly places a young couple in harm's way--both literally and emotionally--as they face a cataclysmic storm that threatens to decimate their Vermont town, and the Eastern Seaboard in her penetrating debut novel, WE ARE UNPREPARED .Read more...
Meg Little Reilly places a young couple in harm's way--both literally and emotionally--as they face a cataclysmic storm that threatens to decimate their Vermont town, and the Eastern Seaboard in her penetrating debut novel, WE ARE UNPREPARED.Ash and Pia move from hipster Brooklyn to rustic Vermont in search of a more authentic life. But just months after settling in, the forecast of a superstorm disrupts their dream. Fear of an impending disaster splits their tight-knit community and exposes the cracks in their marriage. Where Isole was once a place of old farm families, rednecks and transplants, it now divides into paranoid preppers, religious fanatics and government tools, each at odds about what course to take. WE ARE UNPREPARED is an emotional journey, a terrifying glimpse into the human costs of our changing earth and, ultimately, a cautionary tale of survival and the human
Surviving the storm
Some readers will open Meg Little Reilly’s novel and come to certain conclusions about the starring couple. Ash and Pia are from gentrified Brooklyn, but when the book begins, they’ve fled to Vermont, Ash’s natal state, in an attempt to live more “naturally.” Since the book is narrated by Ash in hindsight, we learn he’s survived a storm that makes Superstorm Sandy look like a breezy day at the beach. At last, some may think, the yuppies get theirs.
The problem with this schadenfreude is that the nice, solid, longtime citizens of Isole, Vermont, also get theirs when this storm hits. Even before the apocalypse—and Reilly is masterful at keeping this meteorological monster offstage until the right time—the ties that bind this little community begin to unravel. Ash and Pia’s marriage begins to fracture under the sheer stress of waiting for something to happen.
Neither Ash nor Pia is particularly embraceable, but Reilly has created likable secondary characters: Peg, the nature-loving scientist neighbor; Crow, the hippie/survivalist/loner; Maggie, the doughty schoolteacher; and August, the half-wild boy whom Ash befriends. Suspense comes from wondering who will survive and what the world will look like once this storm has come and gone.
Though writers have long warned us about what happens when humans mess with nature in general and the weather in particular, We Are Unprepared might be in the vanguard of tales that deal with the consequences of human-caused climate change. As such, it is an admirable example of the genre.