How To Pack for the End of the World

HarperTeen. Nov. 2020. 320p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062680266.
Gr 9 Up–Amina struggles with horrific nightmares involving a fire and the destruction of her family’s synagogue. She obsessively researches anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and the rise of the Third Reich, which worries her parents, who seek out a private school in Vermont to help break the cycle Amina has fallen into. At Gardner Academy, Amina meets a group of students of various races who share her fears regarding the end of the world; together they form the Eucalyptus Society. They meet in a fallout shelter located beneath the president’s house and design games to teach and test one another in survival skills, such as foraging, packing a bag, safely attending a protest, and living without electricity. As the semester progresses, each member of the group is targeted by a mysterious stranger who seems to know their deepest, darkest secrets. Secrets and lies are circulated among the entire student body with embarrassing results. The new friends begin to wonder just how much they can trust one another; then one of their own goes missing, and suddenly they are playing a real game of survival. This suspenseful novel is packed with big ideas, and its strength lies in the well-crafted dialogue that showcases young people thoughtfully engaged in the exploration of topics ranging from environmentalism to racism.
VERDICT A page-turner that will get readers thinking about issues facing the world today and may even spur them to activism.

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