How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Author: Meg Rosoff. Website|Twitter
Published: 30 June 2005 (Puffin)
Book Depository: paperback
Source: Borrowed e-book from library
To get away from her pregnant stepmother in New York City, fifteen-year-old Daisy goes to England to stay with her aunt and cousins, with whom she instantly bonds, but soon war breaks out and rips apart the family while devastating the land.
I discovered this book purely by chance whilst browsing my library's e-book catalogue. It sounded like my kind of book so I added it to my to-read list. Whilst a lot of people have shelved this book as a dystopian/post-apocalyptic book on Goodreads, it's really more of a modern day wartime story. Daisy has landed in England to stay with her cousins as the world is on the brink of war.
The book is told from Daisy's point of view and she's a fascinating, beautifully written character with a lot of depth. She's never known her mother and has had to flee her stepmother, and found herself in the midst of war in a foreign country. As well as all that, she struggles with an eating disorder. I liked how that issue was dealt with. You get to see inside her head and it's continually referenced throughout the book, but it doesn't dwell on it too much. I felt it was a very accurate portrayal as well.
The writing style itself is quite quirky. It's written as if Daisy is telling her story to somebody and as such has a spoken quality to it, including long sentences that sometimes felt quite ramble-y (for want of a better word!). And there's no speech marks as well, but I still found the text easy enough to follow. The writing style certainly added to the reading experience.
There's a romantic storyline weaved into the main plot but I won't go into too many details about. I think it was really a sensitive reflection of how people come together in tragic situations, although I don't know if everyone would be comfortable with the relationship. It did make me slightly uncomfortable at times.
I really liked the fact that unlike the wealth of post-apocalyptic novels I've read, this one takes place when the war is actually happening. It was interesting to see a wartime Britain set in the present day where suddenly the absence of electricity has a massive impact and because phone lines and internet connections are down, families, like Daisy's, are struggling to stay in touch. The book really got across the harsh realities of war as well as the devastating effects it has on people and the aftermath of all that death and destruction. There's some pretty brutal scenes of violence and emotional trauma but it was all done really well.
The only flaw I really had with this book was that it was so short! The characters still go through of a hell of a lot for such a short book, and for the first half I liked the pacing (it tailed off a bit at the end for me) but I felt like there was so much more potential in those characters that I could happily have spent another 100 pages with them.
How I Live Now is a wonderful tale of that fight for survival and really gets across the bleakness and brutality of living through war. I will definitely be checking out more by this author and I'd really recommend this book.
What to read next: What I Was by Meg Rosoff
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