How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

15-year old Daisy is sent to live with her aunt and cousins in England when her father and stepmother have had enough of her attitude and eating disorder (which said eating disorder came about by refusing to eat since she was sure her dreadful stepmother was trying to poison her). She is sent from her Manhattan home to live in a rural farm in England - even though there is the threat of war looming (which no one believes will actually happen). The day after her arrival, her Aunt Penn has to leave on a business trip and she finds herself alone with her four cousins. But their parent-less freedom and summer bliss is cut short when an unnamed aggressor attacks England and they find the country under occupation by enemy forces.

The kids aren't really affected by the war at first. They are living under the assumption that the war is too far away and their little haven in the countryside will be spared. But when the British army takes over their farmstead and split the kids up sending Daisy and her youngest cousin, Piper, away they find themselves living a harsh and very scary reality.

Let's start with what I really liked about this book - I think Ms. Rosoff did a phenomenal job of capturing the toll that war can have on children. I really liked the way the effects slowly progressed... how at first the kids felt safe as if nothing could touch them. But then slowly airports were shut down, meaning Aunt Penn could not return back home, then electricity was shut off, and eventually getting food and supplies became a problem. The bad things slowly started trickling in. From the moment you meet Daisy, Edmund, Piper and the rest of the cousins you can't help but like them. And it pains you to see how these children have to struggle to feed themselves and survive the atrocities of war. I liked that it was told in the first person. since through Daisy we get a firsthand account of the perilous journey she and Piper go through in order to find their way back home.

There were several things I was not too fond of though. For instance, I really didn't like the way the story was told with its lack of quotations and full of fragmented and/or run-on sentences. You have to go into realizing that Daisy is telling you her story out loud rather than reminiscing about that time in her life. I truly think that because the story is told this way you don't really get an in depth feel for the characters. It did not go into as much description as I would have liked. It almost felt as if you were skimming over it. I also felt a tad uncomfortable with the relationship between Daisy and Edmund... oh yes, kissing (and much more) cousins. Although it is done tasteful, it was still graphic enough to make me feel slightly creeped out by it.

This was a quick read and one that I found impossible to put down. I can't say that I absolutely loved it, but it really had me enthralled and I must say that once I finished it I had a hard time getting it out of my mind for several days. Although it is classified as YA, I personally would not recommend it to younger teens as it is detailed when it comes to war crimes and the relationship between Edmund and Daisy.

All in all, I would still recommend it. It was a good read and one that I'm sure fans of dystopian, realistic fiction will enjoy.


Emily said...

This sounds like an interesting read, but that might just be because I just finished reading a book about WWII and am interested in reading more of the same kind of literature.

Great review! I think I'll put this on my TBR list.

Sara said...

I received this book for review waaay back when it was released and loved it. Your review (which was great!) reminded me that I need to reread it. I actually have a copy of Rosoff's newest novel, THE BRIDE'S FAREWELL, that I've been meaning to read!

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

I am a huge fan of Meg Rosoff. I do agree with you that her books (all of them) have a older reader feel. Not to be recommended for young teens.
I really enjoyed this one. She just left me with an eerie feeling that I enjoyed!

Emidy said...

I'll have to try this book. I've been reading a lot of war books lately, so I'm right in the mood for it!

Mariz Denver said...

The book is recommended highly for mid to late teenagers. In addition, it is a book with a level of compassion and feeling that would stir any reader. Truly a great book, it is recommended for all readers over the age of 13.

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