He prepared their family for every natural disaster known to man-except for the one that struck. When Nicole Reed's father forces her family to move to a remote area of the Sierra Foothills, one without any modern conveniences, it's too much too handle for her mother, who abandons them in the middle of the night. Heading out to track her down, Nicole's father leaves her in charge of taking care of the house and her younger sister, Izzy. For a while, Nicole is doing just fine running things on her own. But then the food begins to run out, the pipes crack, and forest fires start slowly inching their way closer every day. Wolf, a handsome boy from the neighboring community, offers to help her when she needs it most, but when she starts to develop feelings for him, feelings she knows she will never be allowed to act on once her father returns, she must make a decision. With her family falling apart, will she choose to continue preparing for tomorrow's disasters, or will she take a chance and really start living for today?
I wanted to like this book a lot more, but I was a bit disappointed because it wasn't quite what I expected. First of all, I expected this book to focus more on the survivalist things that Nicole's dad had been teaching her since birth. What I got was a book about two girls waiting desperately for their parents to actually come home. Nicole and her sister were in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with no running water and no phone, but they did have (some) money and plenty of food. So while they had awful, awful parents, it wasn't like they had to go into survival mode because of an apocalypse or whatever.
Nicole and Izzy's mom takes off in the middle of the night, with NO word to anyone about where she was going, not even her children. This woman's husband dragged her to a cabin in the middle of nowhere, she knows he is crazy and yet, she doesn't even THINK of bringing her children along or even telling them goodbye. A couple of days later, her dad makes the incredibly mature and rational decision (insert sarcastic tone here) to go find her and leave the girls alone. These parents should not have had children. Ever. Their mom does write them a letter later in the story to say she wasn't coming back, but man, there was no emotion in that letter. I have written more emotional letters to my bank.
Nicole was easy to like, maybe because I understood her. She went along with everything her dad said, even when she knew he was crazy, because she didn't want to disappoint him. I get that. Izzy, on the other hand, was a brat and I hated her. I tried so hard to put myself in the shoes of a fourteen year old girl who was in a cabin with no cell phone and no running water and I would probably be pretty miserable too. But Izzy was a brat and I hated everything she said and did. All she did was lay around and whine about everything and she never, ever helped her sister. Nicole was working like crazy to fix things around the house and Izzy couldn't even be bothered to cook dinner or do her own laundry.
Nicole and Izzy meet Wolf and some other kids from a nearby spiritual commune or whatever. I could have done without all the POV's honestly. I was more interested in what was happening with Nicole and Izzy, but I was given POV's from Wolf and Laurel (another girl in the commune). I didn't mind Wolf's so much because he was an interesting character. But why were we given insight into Laurel's POV? Other than living at the commune with Wolf and having one or two interactions with Nicole and Izzy, she had nothing to do with anybody. And there was some history with Wolf and his mom and some scenes between them that didn't really need to be there either. Why did I care? The ending was also a big nothing. I won't give anything away, but I expected more to come from their parents abandoning them. I was thinking, "What was the point of any of this?"
The good news (and one of the only things I liked) is that Izzy became less of a brat by the end of the book. Stuff happened that I won't get into because of spoilers and whatever, but it seemed to mellow her out. It also brought her and her sister together. By the end of the book, Izzy and Nicole resembled actual sisters and not just two bickering teenagers who just happened to live together.
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Skip this one.