How I Live Now
by Meg Rosoff (Author)
I read How I Live Now like a woman possessed, cramming the words into my eyes as fast as I could read them. It’s an incredible book, shockingly good; and I can’t remember the last time a novel has had such a dramatic effect on me. Several months later my mind is still reeling from it.
The story begins when the narrator, Daisy, a cool and sophisticated 15-year-old New Yorker, is sent to contemporary England to live with her eccentric cousins with equally eccentric names: Osbert, Isaac, Edmond and Piper. From the very first page I was instantly drawn to Daisy. She has such an authentic voice, she’s painfully honest and strident: everything she says packs a raw, emotional punch. Soon after her arrival, war breaks out, a timely and realistic war, a war of secrets and rumour, terror and brutality. At first, Daisy is unimpressed by this ‘war’. She comments ‘A bomb went off in the middle of a big train station in London the day after Aunt P went to Oslo and something like seven or 70,000 people got killed.’ She’s stuck in England as the airports have all been closed, the aunt she’s barely met is hundreds of miles away, leaving her children and Daisy to their own devices (as in all the best children’s books).
When England is invaded by an unspecified enemy, the children are separated and Daisy goes on the run to find the boys with Piper, her youngest (and only female) cousin. Rosoff refuses to flinch from the horrifying cruelty of war and Daisy’s and Piper’s journey back to the farm, witnessing some terrible scenes, avoiding the enemy and surviving by drinking rainwater and eating what they can scavenge from the land, makes compelling reading.
Add to the potent mixture Daisy’s burgeoning ‘uncousinly’ feelings for Edmond and her eating disorder, both carefully yet realistically handled, and you have one hell of a book, and it’s difficult to do it justice in this short review.
But please, do yourself a favour, if you only read one book this year, make it How I Live Now. You won’t regret it. Age 13/14 to adult.