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Reviewed in the United States on November 18, 2019
Oh, it’s been a really long time since I read a MG book that kept me on the edge of my seat like this one did. And I loved it! I loved the suspense, the adventure, the ingenuity and the love that filled every page.
Hannah is 13, lives on a small, sleepy Seattle island. Her day begins like any other; she misses the bus (not unusual), her mom is over protective when Hannah realizes she forgot her inhaler, she feels a nagging worry her best friend is slipping away. Looking back, Hannah so wishes she’d let her mom hug her when she dropped her off at school, she hadn’t picked a fight with her best friend and she’d told her dad “love you” when he called from his business trip. But Hannah had no idea what would happen later that day…
What does happen is the biggest earthquake the west coast has experienced in 300 years. It happens while Hannah is taking care of her next door neighbors, ages 7 and 10 and cuts all communications and travel to their island home. It means the three of them are totally alone for the next three days. It means that Hannah must use her ingenuity, her courage to not only keep them out of danger but safe from aftershocks and wild animals, but also find food, water and shelter.
There was an amazing sense of place and rich description of all the experiences in the story. You could feel the dampness, the fog and the dust. You could taste the foul water and the strange things they were forced to eat. Most of all you could imagine the terror and loneliness the kids experienced as they tried to understand what was happening to them.
This is a perfect book for anyone looking for adventure and suspense. I highly recommend it! And most importantly, after reading this you’ll feel compelled to get your emergency box prepared. I started last night!
I couldn't put this book down! Kid-me would have read breathlessly, excited and scared to find out what happened next. Adult-me read the same way, but with a bit more emotion since I'm old enough to be Hannah's mom and wanted to swoop in and rescue them.
Hannah was such a relatable character - I remember being that age and feeling mature enough to babysit and be in charge, but at the same time feeling like I had no idea what I was doing. Her reactions and choices were realistic, and through it all, she was brave and resourceful.
Like with all of Rebecca's books, I learned so much, but I never realize I'm learning until I'm looking up sand volcanoes and making a list of what to add to my emergency kit. This would be a great book to read with the whole family or in a classroom setting and discuss afterward. And not just in case of an earthquake - in case of any emergency.
In a weird twist, wind + overgrown trees knocked out power to my neighborhood when I was about 2/3 of the way through, so reading the end by sunlight as equipment trucks beeped nearby heightened the tension.
I'm not going to spoil anything, but I thought the "after" part was a really clever epilogue.
Thirteen-year-old, Hannah, is asked to babysit her two young neighbors, Zoe and Oscar. It’s only Hannah’s second time ever babysitting, but she just finished a babysitting course and nothing bad ever really happens in her quiet little neighborhood, tucked away on tiny Pelling Island. But then disaster strikes when a big earthquake hits, shutting down the ferry and bridge, meaning Hannah and her two charges are cut off from their parents and help. Injuries, a dangerously wrecked house, and a depleting food supply quickly make things even worse and scarier. How will Hannah and the kids survive?
Rebecca Behrens’ The Disaster Days is a compelling and empowering middle-grade disaster story that will have readers on the edge of their seats and breathless!
With its utterly gripping story, and Behrens mastery of suspense, emotion, and earthquake disaster knowledge, The Disaster Days is an unputdownable page-turner. Behrens has clearly done her earthquake research, as every aspect of Hannah’s story feels authentic and real. Every heart-wrenching and lump-in-your-throat moment of fear, panic, and doubt is powerfully felt, and every heartwarming moment of triumph, obstacles overcome, and teamwork and sweetness between the characters will be relished and celebrated by readers.
Readers will easily connect with the three engaging, excellently developed young characters. Through all their likable qualities and flaws, victories and mistakes, Hannah, Zoe, and Oscar feel incredibly real...and by the end of the book, they’ll feel like long lost friends to readers.
The Disaster Days will take young readers on an unforgettable, emotionally charged journey that will encourage, inspire, and educate. A suspenseful, spectacularly crafted survival story!
Reviewed in the United States on September 16, 2020
I loved this book, and raced through the second half in one sitting. It's fast-paced, exciting, and harrowing, with real stakes. This is a must for any middle-grade reader (tween or adult) in search of the perfect mix of adventure and heart. Five stars!