Select one of the keywords
How I Live Now    by Meg Rosoff order for
How I Live Now
by Meg Rosoff
Order:  USA  Can
Wendy Lamb Books, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Meg Rosoff's first novel gives a frighteningly realistic picture of World War in the 21st century. It's a tale of survival and it's a love story. How I Live Now is narrated by fifteen-year old Elizabeth (Daisy), who travels from Manhattan to an isolated farm in England to visit Aunt Penn and family. Daisy has an eating disorder. Her mom (Aunt Penn's sister) died giving birth to her, and she leaves behind a troubled family life with her dad and stepmother.

Aunt Penn travels frequently to work for peace in places such as Oslo. Fending for themselves, Daisy and her cousins (Piper, Osbert, and twins Edmond and Isaac) bond instantly. Edmond and Daisy fall in love. But London is attacked by an unknown enemy the day after Daisy's arrival. Speculations about the War include: 'it's the Chinese', 'There's a nuclear bunker under Marks & Spencer that's only open to shareholders', and 'The Queen is one of Them.' Rosoff often interjects humor in Daisy's thoughts as well. Aunt Penn's property is sequestered by the military, and Daisy and Piper taken to stay at with an Army family. Daisy writes, 'given how my life had gone so far, I'd had lots of practice in not expecting everything to turn out like your basic Hollywood tearjerker with the blind girl played by this year's Oscar Hopeful and the crippled boy miraculously walking and everyone going home happy.'

Meg Rosoff was inspired to write the novel by the war in Iraq. It reads like a journal narrated by Daisy, and readers will sense her underlying maturation and courage, as well as that of her cousins. Rosoff's style of writing long sentences sans punctuation is unusually effective in the story's presentation, like a monologue delivery that does not get boring. She portrays the realities of war - food and med shortages, no utilities, separation from and loss of loved ones, living day-to-day, and not losing hope. The author aptly writes Daisy's thoughts, 'If you haven't been in a war and are wondering how long it takes to get used to losing everything you think you need or love, I can tell you the answer is No time at all', and 'I couldn't help wondering why life in a windowless barn thousands of miles from America surrounded by soldiers felt more real than most of the real life I'd ever lived through.'

Rosoff's How I Live Now is an extraordinary read that tells of an amazing journey by Daisy and Piper to find their way back to the farm. Daisy's final musings place a lump in the reader's throat, 'fighting back is what I've discovered I do best. After all this time, I know exactly where I belong ... And that's how I live now.' It's left to the reader to work out the question of who the invaders were. Don't miss this one. I look forward to future stories by Meg Rosoff.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Teens books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews