Judith D Collins
We Are Unprepared
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: 8/30/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars We Are Unprepared is a novel about the next big storm, the one that changes our relationship to nature and each other…the superstorm that threatens to destroy a marriage, a rural Vermont town and the Eastern Seaboard when it hits. But the destruction begins months earlier, when fear infects people's lives and spreads like a plague. Ash and Pia's move from Brooklyn to the bucolic hills of Vermont was supposed to be a fresh start—a picturesque farmhouse, mindful lifestyle, maybe even children. But just three months in, news breaks of a devastating superstorm expected in the coming months. Fear of the impending disaster divides their tight-knit rural town and exposes the chasms in Ash and Pia's marriage. Ash seeks common ground with those who believe in working together for the common good. Pia teams up with "preppers" who want to go off the grid and war with the rest of the locals over whom to trust and how to protect themselves. Where Isole had once been a town of old farm families, yuppie transplants and beloved rednecks, they divide into paranoid preppers, religious fanatics and government tools. We Are Unprepared is an emotional journey, a terrifying glimpse into the human, environmental and cultural costs of our changing earth. But hope awaits on the other side.
A special thank you to MIRA and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Talented Meg Little Riley delivers WE ARE UNPREPARED -a Vermont couple, recently transplanted from Brooklyn, attempts to weather the storms of life. Part environmental thriller, apocalyptic, and psychological domestic suspense. A devastating super storm. One which threatens to destroy a marriage, a town, and the Eastern Seaboard. It starts when the fear of its arrival infects lives and spreads like a plague. Ash and Pia are chasing a romanticized idea of a more simple and sustainable life. Set in Vermont, an approaching period of extreme weather events. Their move from Brooklyn to the bucolic hills of Vermont was supposed to be a fresh start—a picturesque farmhouse, mindful lifestyle, maybe even children. But just three months in, news breaks of a devastating superstorm expected in the coming months. Their dream home and the life they had wanted. A place to join nature. The Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. They had left their jobs in New York and started a new life in Vermont. They wanted to grow and build things. Preserve and pickle.They wanted to play their own music and brew their own beer. A real life. Self-reliance—a promise that they would not only feel a deep sense of pride and moral superiority, but also that it would ensure eternal martial bliss. From eating their own cucumbers, they had grown, beekeeping seminars, and sitting on the Adirondack chairs they carefully assembled, on their charming porch. When the news of The Storms broke, they were only three months into the real-living adventure. They were not alone in their journey—there were others with the same aspirations. People who wanted to live different. In the aftermath of America’s economic crisis, a burst housing bubble, and an overheating earth— they were part of an unofficial movement of people who wanted to create a life that wasn’t defined by a drive for more stuff. They wanted to spend less time at work and more time with each other. The simple pleasures. The world was different and they were adapting. Isole, Vermont was their answer to those yearnings. They were hiding out in a picturesque hamlet that was too far from a city to be truly civilized. It offered a delightful mix of hippies and rednecks, co-habitating in the valley between two small mountains. Coming from Brooklyn, they had spent the previous twelve years building successful and lucrative careers. Pia had worked in advertising and Ash, was a partner at a graphic design firm. They had fallen in love with their Vermont farmhouse on vacation. They had made a pact to live a different sort of life one day. They wanted to escape the city and remake themselves. Now, this was finally the natural extension of the dream they had created together. The Storms. The NOAA was predicting as many as thirty named tropical storms and hurricanes in the coming months, along with likely heat waves and drought, and even severe blizzards. The storms have the potential to be very disruptive. The global ramifications of extreme weather—food scarcity, political unrest, war—the storms of life. Climate changes. Fear. A catastrophic storm. Excitement. Waiting for disaster. Relationships. Storms are costly and dangerous. So many variables. Damaging. Preparations. Terrifying. The universe. How will it kill off our species? Instantaneous and painless, or cruelly slow. Had it already begun, slowly enough to go undetected. Beginning or an end? They did not know how it would end or just how gruesome the destruction would be. They tingled with impatient anticipation of its release. When would it hit? Something was going to happen. Anticipation. A storm can take your home, your equity, your livelihood and maybe even your loved ones. You cannot underestimate the power of nature, God’s power. Something much bigger than us. The Storm can rearrange lives and test faith. It can wash away thousands of square miles and change our country. Choices…. Preparation. Waiting to be rescued from treacherous conditions. Some even death. What the novel’s characters are unprepared for is a devastating super storm. It threatens to destroy a marriage, a rural Vermont town, and the Eastern Seaboard when it hits, but the storm’s destruction actually begins months earlier when fear of its arrival infects lives and spreads like a plague. Weather events in the modern age test our faith in the almighty power of civilization. Disaster. Loss. The aftermath. Recovery. The Storm blasted wide open all the small fractures that previously existed in a community, in relationships. Will they be able to learn from the destruction, and move on? Rebuild something stronger, a sounder foundation on an uncertain future. If you have read the author’s impressive bio, she worked for President Obama as deputy associate director at the White House Office of Management and Budget and, before that, as spokesperson at the U.S. Treasury. – you will share her passion of activism and her love letter to the woods where she grew up. From climate change and how fear threatens our relationships. A relationship to the natural world and what we stand to lose if we do not change our course. A moving, absorbing, thought-provoking story of global warming and conservation—an exploration, an uncertain world, an apocalypse water story. Fear is a strong driver and ongoing theme. From religion, alcohol, and guns. Many will relate to the many vices humans turn to for comfort in times of fear. An ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions. Reilly includes a very detailed Reader’s Guide to further enhance group discussions. Can’t wait to see what’s next!
On a personal note: Love the cover. An avid hiker, and a former owner of a remote log cabin in the woods, I miss the wilderness, quietness, and waterfalls. There is a sense of solitude and peacefulness next to God's nature. Review Links:
“Timely and terrifying” — Publishers Weekly
“Smart, prophetic, heartfelt; WE ARE UNPREPARED is just the book I’ve been waiting to read—both wake-up call and salve for these uncertain times.” — Robin MacArthur, author of Half Wild
“Ash’s story points to human connection, rather than radical isolationism, as the key to surviving a crisis, a message that will uplift readers.” — Publishers Weekly
“You’ll definitely want to re-pack your emergency kit after reading this awesome new novel.” — Brit + Co
“Reilly gives us one heckuva ride… Cli-fi novels don’t get much better than this.” — Dan Bloom, The Cli-Fi Report
“Frightening, fascinating, all too possible.” — Paula Treick DeBoard, author of The Drowning Girls
“An entertainingly delicious read that doubles as a sociology class.” — Pop Sugar
“This terrifying glance into the relentless power of one superstorm and the primitive consequences that ripple through the east coast will send a literary jolt through any reader’s imagination.” — Redbook
“This intimate, well-crafted book is an important addition.” — Charlene D'Avanzo, author of Cold Blood, Hot Sea
“Any book group will have lots to discuss here” — Library Journal
“Part environmental thriller, part exploration of marriage, it reveals the psychological storm that lies underneath the tranquil New England facade ready to sweep us into tribal life.” — Joseph Monninger, award-winning author of Eternal on the Water
“Never preachy or didactic, Reilly shows the costs of ignoring major problems—whether in a marriage, government, infrastructure, or the environment—and the deadly consequences of such ignorance.” — Booklist
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About the Author
Photo by Adrien Bisson Photography
I am a writer, environmentalist, crafter, hiker of mountains, swimmer of lakes, and reader of everything.
Before I got serious about writing books, I worked for President Obama as Deputy Associate Director at the White House Office of Management and Budget; and prior to that, as Spokesperson at the U.S. Treasury. I've worked at Environmental Defense Fund, a couple great consulting firms, and had more political internships than I can count. I'm eternally grateful to the smart people at Vermont Public Radio for hiring me out of college. I have a B.A. from the University of Vermont and an M.A. from the George Washington University. So basically, I've had some real jobs too.
I grew up in the funky hamlet of Brattleboro, Vermont where I wrote terrible, heartfelt poetry in the woods. After an exciting detour in national politics, I'm back at it in New England.
When I'm not writing, I'm playing outside with my husband Dan and our two delightful daughters. Read More