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How I Live Now

Meg Rosoff

Average Review Rating Average Rating 5/10 (2 Reviews)
Book Details

Publisher : Puffin

Published : 2005

Copyright : Meg Rosoff 2004

ISBN-10 : PB 0-14-131801-5
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-14-131801-1

Publisher's Write-Up

It would be much easier to tell this story if it were all about a chaste and perfect love between Two Children Against the World at an Extreme Time in History. But let's face it, that would be crap. Daisy is sent from New York to England to spend a summer with cousins she has never met. They are Isaac, Edmond, Osbert and Piper. And two dogs and a goat. She's never met anyone quite like them before - and, as a dreamy English summer progresses, Daisy finds herself caught in a timeless bubble. It seems like the perfect summer. But their lives are about to explode. Falling in love is just the start of it. War breaks out - a war none of them understands, or really cares about, until it lands on their doorstep. The family is separated. The perfect summer is blown apart. Daisy's life is changed forever - and the world is too.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Sarah (310110) Rating (3/10)
Review by Katie (181009) Rating (7/10)

Review by Sarah
Rating 3/10
If you're looking for a book that really pushes the boundaries of Teen Fiction, then How I Live Now is probably a good place to start. It tells the story of Daisy, a fifteen-year old New Yorker whose father ships her off to English countryside for the summer, to live with cousins she's never even met before. Whilst there, her world gets turned upside down when she begins to feel extremely attracted towards her cousin Edward, and war breaks out across the country.

One of my biggest problems with this book was the style. It's narrated almost as a diary and to start with, I had no problem with this. However, three pages the lack of punctuation really started to grate on me. It was as if the narrator was talking at me, rather than to me, and I started to get quite confused with the dialogue due to the lack of speech marks. Dialogue is definitely present but it's in more of a 'he said, she said' format, from the point of view of Daisy (the narrator); very confusing.

I'm willing to give credit to Rosoff for discussing such mature issues, such as falling in love with a relative, but when reading the book I couldn't help but wonder if teenagers would really want to read about it; especially when some adults consider the topic to be almost taboo.

The whole concept of the war didn't really work for me either. It really jarred my reading when Daisy was talking about watching tanks rolling down the road and then three lines later, she pulls her mobile phone out of her pocket. This is more likely to be a reflection of my concept of war rather than Rosoffs' writing, but I still felt there was something missing. At the same time, I also found some of the descriptions to be quite graphic. There's one particular point when someone gets shot and the way it's described was a little too much even for my taste.

All in all, fair play to Rosoff for trying something completely new with teen fiction. It's just a shame there were so many things about it that I didn't like.
Sarah (31st January 2010)

Review by Katie
Rating 7/10
How I Live Now begins in the calm setting of the English countryside, where Daisy and her cousins are able to relax and live happily. Steadily the atmosphere changes as they are forced to act and behave beyond their years. This brilliant novel tackles a difficult subject whilst still able to hold on to some humour.

The book is narrated by Daisy, who is your average, stereotypical, American teenager; always causing trouble for her dad and pregnant stepmother, self involved and always wanting attention. Her dad sends her to England to live with her aunt and cousins, so that they can have some peace and time to prepare for the new arrival. Daisy arrives in the strange land but soon begins to settle in her new life with her cousins on the farm.

Their life is simple and peaceful and they enjoy many long sunny days by the river. However, all their lives are uprooted when war erupts. They are forced to separate and help their country through the difficult times.

The book follows her and her cousins' lives as they struggle to survive in a land that is still strange to Daisy. Both humorous and heartbreaking, it will tug at all emotions leaving each fully satisfied. Set in an ambiguous time period, the book is educational to young teenage readers, enabling them to understand what it might have been like for their older relatives who were in previous wars.

Although the issues dealt with are serious, for example, eating disorders and under-age sex, they are dealt with in a very sensitive and subtle way so that the reader is not drowning in the moral issues and are able to enjoy to enjoy the novel for what it is: a story.

Although there are some parts that could have been improved, such as the ending, this is a superb book. Perfect for the teenage girl age group it is intended for (although some boys could enjoy it) and for older readers. For Rosoff's first novel, it is an amazing read and I would definitely buy her other books.
Katie (18th October 2009)

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