Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
Peggy’s mom, Ute, is a famous concert pianist. Her father is a survivalist. He doesn’t seem to have a real job, but regular meetings happen at their home with other North London men about how to survive when the world ends. He constantly makes lists and builds and stocks a fallout shelter under their home. When Ute leaves for a trip to Germany, father packs up eight-year old Peggy so they can go on an adventure. They cross into mainland Europe and hike through the wilderness to a cabin on a small area of land bordered by mountains and a river. After they arrive father breaks the sad news. Ute is dead. The world has ended. The Great Divide has formed at the edge of their view. On the other side nothing is left. All they have now is each other.
Right from the beginning you know that Peggy returns to London eight years later. And you know that her father does not. For a survivalist he is woefully unprepared but they manage not to starve the first winter and eke out an existence together. Things start to change in their world with the arrival of Rueben, a man who also survived the end of the world.
I was disappointed in the ending because I guessed how things were going with the few clues the author provided: but thinking about it now it really couldn’t end any other way. (For once the cover actually has a LOT to do with the story.) There were still a few surprises that helped fill in the blanks, like the reason her father dragged her away into the wilderness. Fans of survival and apocalyptic fiction may enjoy it, but overall the tone is very dark and bleak. Yes, usually this type of fiction is dark and bleak but while reading this you know that there is warmth and food and shelter and shoes just a day’s hike away. That’s what makes it such sad read.