Author: Meg Rosoff
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books, August 5, 2004
Pages: Paperback, 194
Book Synopsis (from Goodreads): “Every war has turning points and every person too.”
Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.
As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.
A riveting and astonishing story.
This book blew me away. I read How I Live Now in just a few hours and every single moment I was engrossed, unable to put it down. The story is very unique for a dystopian in that it’s not overly complicated. The setting may as well be today and not some far away future, which is why I found it most unsettling.
Daisy’s brutally honest, insightful and imaginative thoughts gave her character a realness that I immediately bonded to. Meg Rosoff has the wonderful ability to create beautiful prose by writing very long sentences in such an effortless way. Because of this, Daisy’s thoughts were written like a very easy to read stream of consciousness full of color and details which gave her personality life. Later, Meg uses short and simple sentences that illustrate the emptiness Daisy feels.
While reading How I Live Now, I was taken to the beautiful English countryside along with Daisy and I yearned for the absolute bliss this simple life created. When the war hit, I too was in denial along with Daisy and her cousins that the war was an irrelevant problem, very far away. I too was catapulted into a kind of hell along with them when everything started to fall apart.
To give you fair warning, there is a taboo in this novel but I didn’t find it offensive. Details are sparse and the message is clear that the characters are aware of their unacceptable behavior and after all the characters are children and not adults, an important distinction. I think it’s included because it shows how the children’s version of reality is already unfolding without any adults around before consequences of war can even touch their lives.
The cover of this book is beautiful and while I borrowed this copy from the library, I can’t wait to get my own. I recommend this to anyone – boy, girl, man, woman, goat or dog. It’s a thrilling story and one that reminds me why I love reading so much.