The book has an SF premise -- the Phoenix flu slowly brings civilization to a halt, but the book is about Jiselle Dorn's new marriage and her life with her three step-children. The eroding of safety in the world, the loss of electricity and reliable supplies of gas and groceries, all seem to echo the eroding of her faith in her marriage and her husband. Jiselle seems as oblivious to warning signs of domestic trouble as of international collapse, and also seems as stubbornly determined to take care of her stepchildren as she is to survive in a world without government.
I was reminded a little of Live as We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeiffer, which also features a mom and her kids dealing with a crumbling infrastructure. But in Kasischke's book the characters don't think to worry about the future; Jiselle concentrates on the present worries and puts her step-daughters unfortunate clothing choices on the same level as the closing of American borders as foreign countries try to stop the spread of disease. I liked how the collapse of the world echoed the collapse of her marriage, and I like to think of the book as metaphorical because I really don't see Jiselle surviving in the long run, and by the end of the book that seems a very sad thing. She manages to build a family out of her angry step-children, one that doesn't need the wayward dad for stability. I'll be looking for other books by Kasischke, hoping for the same lovely language and characters. B+