- Author: Lisa Schroeder
- Performed by Julia Whelan
- Released: August 2015 by Scholastic Audio
- Category: Young Adult
Just over twenty-four hours are left until an asteroid strikes North America, and for Emerson and everyone else who didn’t leave, the world will end. But Emerson’s world already ended when she ran away from home. Since then, she has lived on the streets, relying on her wits and on her friend Vince to help her find places to sleep and food to eat.
The city’s quieter now that most people are gone, and no one seems to know what to do as the end approaches. But then Emerson and Vince meet Carl, who tells them he has been granting people’s wishes—and gives them his wallet full of money.
Suddenly, this last day seems full of possibility. Emerson and Vince can grant a lot of wishes in one last day—maybe even their own.
The government have announced an asteroid is due to hit north-western America with devastating effects to the region, the impact expected to affect parts of Canada also. Panic and chaos ensued with many people trying to leave by any means possible, resulting in deaths and injuries.
The story opens with just over twenty four hours to impact. Teenagers Emerson and her best friend, Vince are living in a youth shelter in Portland, Oregon after surviving on the streets for over a year. Rather than sit around waiting for the inevitable they decide to end things on their terms with a jump from the Vista Bridge. Once there it’s apparent someone else has the same idea and it makes them reconsider. When Carl sees them he asks if there’s anything they would wish for given the chance. The first thing Vince thinks of is money since it would have made their time on the street so much easier. Carl gives Emerson and Vince his wallet with the proviso they pay it forward.
He turns and walks away from them, heading back to the end of the bridge where he’ll climb around the barricade and onto the stone railing. Emerson looks at Vince. “Should we stop him?” Before Vince can respond, Carl shouts to them, “Pay it forward, if you can. Look for those who have wishes or regrets.” Panic rises up and Emerson realises she doesn’t want to be here. She starts to run, heading back the way they came. She doesn’t want to hear the fall. Definitely doesn’t want to see it. She remembers Vince’s words “I just want it to be easy.” There is nothing easy about this, she realises. Not a single thing.
An interesting question; what would you do if you only had a day left to live? How would you spend those last precious hours? It’s a thought provoking concept. Vince and Emerson have Carl’s money and could do anything but they decide to honour his wishes and pay it forward, trying to make as many people happy as they can, and come to realisation what people do, what they themselves do, really matters. In the process they find happiness and beauty in the everyday things we sometimes take for granted. ‘He’ll miss the sound of rain on the rooftop. The smell of cookies baking in the oven. The warmth of the sunshine on his skin.’
Rather than panic and desperation, which it could have easily been, the story’s focal points are positivity, compassion and kindness. Making the most of every minute. ‘No, you see, you guys are looking at it all wrong,’ Vince says. ‘The amount of time isn’t important. A hundred minutes or a hundred years. Whatever, it doesn’t matter. Just make it count.’
Relationships are a big part of the story. Vince isn’t really over his mother’s death, yet despite that and living on the streets with all it’s negative implications, he is always upbeat and positive. Emerson is less so because she’s still hurt and keeping her feelings in check. All Carl wants is to get home to his wife. It was intriguing to read people’s differing reactions to the situation and how it forces them to grasp new insights about life, themselves and what is really important.
I love the writing, the way the characters’ storylines all mesh together and the message the story sends out. Julia Whelan has a very easy to listen to voice, smooth and perfect for audios, her narrations always enrich a story.
About the author
Lisa Schroeder is the author of seven novels for teens: I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, FAR FROM YOU, CHASING BROOKLYN, THE DAY BEFORE, FALLING FOR YOU, THE BRIDGE FROM ME TO YOU and ALL WE HAVE IS NOW. She’s also the author of the middle grade IT’S RAINING CUPCAKES and CHARMED LIFE series, and MY SECRET GUIDE TO PARIS. Her books have been translated into several languages and have been selected for a number of state reading lists. When she’s not writing, you will probably find Lisa reading, walking the dog, or baking yummy treats. Lisa is a native Oregonian and lives with her family in Beaverton.