I'm trying to identify a book I read in school, though I can't recall at what grade level; let's say it had to have been published before I graduated high school in 2000. Despite being required reading, it didn't feel much like a classic.
The story took place on Earth, after some catastrophe had caused the air to become poisonous. However, one teenage girl was able to survive because her house was in a valley which was somehow protected from the poisonous winds and was able to sustain its own ecosystem. One day, a man wearing a protective full-body suit and gas mask appears in the valley, and both are rather surprised to find someone else alive. She feeds and shelters the man and shows him how she had come to survive in the valley. Rather abruptly…
the man attempts to rape her, but she overpowers him somehow. She steals his protective suit and starts to leave the valley. He tells her that he had seen birds in a certain direction away from the valley, indicating there might be life there as well, and she leaves.
I believe there was an author's note either at the beginning or end of the book stating that the author had actually died while writing the manuscript, and that their friends or family had finished the book by going off the author's original notes, which I suppose may explain the abruptness of the ending.
In case it wasn't clear from the above, I didn't really like the book. But I'm curious about it regardless.