Sunday, June 21, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Title: How I Live Now
Author: Meg Rosoff
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books a division of Random House
Year: 2004

First line: "My name is Elizabeth but no one's ever called me that."

How I Live Now is Meg Rosoff's first novel and won the Printz Award for young adult literature. That said, I would recommend it for the more mature YA due to certain ideas presented.

Daisy is a New York teen exiled to live with her aunt and cousins in the English countryside. Daisy's "evil" step-mother is about to have a baby of her own and is not interested in handling a smart-aleck teenager with an eating disorder. Daisy settles in easily with her British relatives and lives a rather idyllic country life ... until the unthinkable happens. While Daisy's aunt is out of the country at a conference on terrorism, England is invaded by an unknown enemy. Living in the countryside the children are far from the bombs and trouble and they continue to laze away their summer days, as children will. These happy and peaceful days are highlighted by Daisy's passionate and secret relationship with her cousin Edmond. Daisy knows that this relationship is wrong, but with no adult supervision Daisy and Edmond give in to their attraction to each other.
"The real truth is that the war didn’t have much to do with it except that it provided a perfect limbo in which two people who were too young and too related could start kissing without anything or anyone making us stop."
I am not sure why the author included a forbidden relationship in this story. The love story is integral to the novel, but I remain baffled by the author's choice of family relation.

The atmosphere of the novel takes a dark turn when their country home is sequestered by the British military, and the children are separated and sent to live with other families. The enemy is placated by the docility of the populace for a time, but tensions soon rise and nearly every encounter is highly charged and fatal to someone. Electricity becomes non-existent and food is scarce. As everyone around her begins looking gaunt, Daisy realizes the irony of her situation now that starvation is not self imposed. The children witness terrible atrocities and are left to struggle against the elements and hunger in their search to find a safe place and, hopefully, each other.

How I Live Now is a terrifying story made more so by an unknown enemy with an unknown purpose. It is a love story and a war story that tells how war changes people, sometimes devastatingly so, and how love can heal even the most destroyed souls.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Also reviewed by:
nymeth at things mean a lot
tanabata at in spring it is the dawn
3m at
raidergirl3 at an adventure in reading


  1. I'm reading this soon so I just looked at your number rating. I'll come back to your review when I'm finished to compare!

  2. 3m: I'll look forward to your thoughts!

  3. I don't know why they were cousins either :P But to be honest by the end of the book I had forgotten about that. What happens to those kids really is terrifying.

  4. I'd wondered at the choice for the love story too, and overall had mixed feelings about it.
    My review.