We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly
Published by MIRA, 368 pages, $16
Soon after 30-something couple Ash and Pia move from Brooklyn to Vermont’s idyllic Northeast Kingdom, warnings of catastrophic weather take over their lives. The threatened Storm, in Rorschach fashion, has everyone seeing things their own way. Pia quickly joins the nutty “preppers” whose doomsday imaginings darken her outlook. Ash joins the Subcommittee that’s preparing more practically to redirect runoff and prevent flooding downtown. As their two perspectives bifurcate, baby-questing and their rollicking sex life start to fade.
Ash turns his sensitive attention to August, a lovable neglected child. He also forms a friendship with Peg, a botanist with a spiritual bond to the land. He attempts to persuade one bunkered-up guy named Crow to let his land be dug into when the water invades—no dice. And he watches evangelical opportunist Rodney Riggins touting salvation while selling preparedness kits.
Local author Meg Little Reilly—who worked for the Environmental Defense Fund and in Obama’s White House—knows the political splinterings caused by climate change. But in this sophisticated novel, she focuses on the ebb and flow of relationships. They’re rendered with nuance, though Reilly throws in a pinch of distanced amusement, and horror, at some crazier reactions to these disturbing events. Many positions are thoughtfully portrayed here, even as they yank people apart.
From Page 296: Everyone looked a little different in the dim light of The Storm: August appeared more childlike and vulnerable to me than before, and Pia was noticeably less beautiful, haggard even. Still, we were married and there was a working rhythm to even our disdainful days. She poured bourbon into my hot chocolate and the sweet burn was a gift as it slid down my throat. I wanted to drink three more mugs and sleep until the earth returned to its former self.