How I Live Now

by Meg Rosoff

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent to live with her cousins in England while her father... read more

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent to live with her cousins in England while her father and new stepmother move on with their lives in New York City. Almost immediately, Daisy’s aunt leaves for business, and terrorists from an unknown country invade England. With no adults around, Daisy and her cousins, Osbert, Edmond, Isaac, and Piper, have only a vague notion of what is happening. They live in a rural area far removed from the initial points of attack in the cities, and events are not close enough to penetrate their sheltered and self-involved lives. Daisy and Edmond fall in love, and Meg Rosoff navigates the delicate subject of teenage cousins engaged in sex with amazing restraint, skillfully implying the intensity of their physical passion without ever words more explicit than “kiss” and “touch.” When the war finally arrives at their door and separates Daisy and Edmond, Daisy’s agony is searing, even as she struggles to keep herself and young Piper alive. They endure some horrific wartime episodes, including checkpoints, murders, massacres, and starvation. The hunger they experience is used both literally and as a metaphor for longing, and Daisy’s physical and emotional hungers becomes enmeshed in this sophisticated, gripping novel. Because Daisy had been anorexic when she arrived in England, the irony of Daisy’s hunger is powerful, and its role as a metaphor even more pronounced. Daisy’s voice is fresh and clear. At first sarcastic and funny, when the novel opens she is as an almost wholly self-absorbed teen who cares most of all about herself, even without caring for herself. Rosoff’s use of capital letters, hyperbole, and run-on sentences effectively convey her character and distinctive voice. As life itself becomes a struggle, Daisy begins to care for others in a way she has never cared for anyone, including herself. By the end of the war, she has become serious, almost numb. Her psychological transformation is profound and tied directly to the action and events in the story. It is also reflected in the change in narrative style, which becomes much more restrained. A huge jump in time at the end of this harrowing, psychologically complex novel succeeds in explaining the ingenious title, which meekly explains “how I live now.” (Ages 14–18)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2005

show less