WE ARE UNPREPARED

Meg Little Reilly

This is a novel about the superstorm that threatens to destroy a marriage, a town and the entire Eastern seaboard. But the destruction begins early, when fear infects people’s lives and spreads like the plague.

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,

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This is a novel about the superstorm that threatens to destroy a marriage, a town and the entire Eastern seaboard. But the destruction begins early, when fear infects people’s lives and spreads like the plague.

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 spirit.

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  • MIRA Books
  • Paperback
  • August 2016
  • 368 Pages
  • 9780778319436

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$15.99

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About Meg Little Reilly

Meg Little Reilly grew up in the offbeat hamlet of Brattleboro, Vermont, where she fantasized about writing novels from a cabin in the woods. After an exciting detour in national politics, she’s still working on that plan. She currently lives in the Boston area with her husband, Daniel, and their two daughters. We Are Unprepared is her debut novel.

Praise

“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

“I couldn’t stop thinking of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery as I read Meg Little Reilly’s We Are Unprepared. Part environmental thriller, part exploration of marriage, it reveals the psychological storm that lies underneath the tranquil New England façade ready to sweep us into tribal life.” —Joseph Monninger, award-winning author of Eternal on the Water

“This intimate, well-crafted book is an important addition.” —Charlene D’Avanzo, author of Cold Blood, Hot Sea

“Cli-fi novels don’t get much better than this.” —Dan Bloom, The Cli-Fi Report

Discussion Questions

1. Ash and Pia are chasing a romanticized idea of a more simple and sustainable life. Is this relatable to you, or do you consider it a misguided or perhaps even a privileged fantasy?

2. Do you think Ash and Pia would have made it as a couple in Vermont even if the superstorm had not happened? Why?

3. Which of the characters in We Are Unprepared do you consider to be “normal,” and which do you think of as “crazy?” Can extreme circumstances make sane people insane?

4. Which of the characters in the novel would you most behave like in these circumstances?

5. If you were facing the same weather disaster, would you align with the civic-minded mayor and Ash, or the prepper group and Pia?

6. Once the storm hits, civil society falls apart quickly, and the death toll begins to mount. Does this seem like hyperbole to you? Do you think local, state and federal governments are this unprepared for a superstorm?

7. Is it noble or selfish for Ash to want to adopt August? Does the lack of choices in a rural, devastated place change this calculation?

8. Fear drives characters in this story to religion, alcohol and guns. What other vices and comforts do we all turn to in anxious times?

9. Does the superstorm seem plausible here? Do you consider it science fiction or an inevitability in our future?

10. No explicit assertion is made in the novel that the changing weather patterns are caused by human behavior, though it’s certainly implied. Do you perceive this story to be about man-made climate change or about chance? How might those different positions affect your opinion of the book?

11. In your own life, what aspect of the natural world do you feel most protective of? Is there a place or an experience that you want to shield from the effects of climate change?

12. Do you believe successive generations will have a different relationship to the natural world?

13. Do you believe fiction and art can influence public attitudes about climate change?