Imagine you're in middle school and you finally get up the courage to do something even a teeny-tiny bit sneaky, like plan a sleepover at your gran's cabin in the woods with two other girlfriends, and then pull the, "Tell each parent you're with the other, so they think you're fine and safe" thing?
But at the absolute last minute your friends cancel. I mean, you're in the cabin, alone, and there's some ginormous -- but at the same time amorphous -- national emergency and the entire state evacuates in 24 hours, and no one knows you're not evacuating. You watch old movies and sleep in and totally miss the emergency and evacuation. And because everyone willingly gives up their cell phones (OK, that's not going to happen!), you can't reach either parent to tell them, you're not with the other?
That's the premise of this book. It's a believable tale of survival with no running water, electricity, gas runs out, no police forces or other human beings for support or help at all. The 12-year-old main character is forced to scavenge from other homes, at first leaving notes apologizing, but later abandoning her guilt about doing what she must to survive.
She has a medical emergency (I won't say what, because that would give away a good chunk of the plot) and there's no one to help her. Raiders and marauders hit the town's pawn shops, looking for guns and whatever else they can steal for quick turn around sale elsewhere.
The neighbor's super-needy Rottie becomes her constant companion, but she can't save every single house pet.
This is a gripping read on a high-interest subject, survival, that the perennial interest in Hatchet and the Brian books by Gary Paulsen among my students never ceased to amaze. This features a girl surviving, getting her period for the first time all alone, and missing her family something fierce. It'll make an excellent addition to your classroom or home shelf.
The only drawback is one that many books in verse suffer, and I call it the "tome syndrome." At slightly more than 400 pages, the spine is thick, compared to others, and it runs the risk of being rejected by reluctant readers based on sheer number of pages. I do wish at some point publishers would start utilizing a double- or triple-column per page format for these verse books, because they really do go by super quick and they're generally much easier reads than students expect at first glance.