How I Live Now – Meg Rosoff

*Spoiler Alert*
I have been excited to talk about this book for awhile now, mainly because, well…I loved it!
First, I should mention that this love came as somewhat of a shock to me.  When I first starting reading this book, I found the writing very hard to…go with, I guess.  Especially without any quotations around dialogue, I found it really aggravating at the beginning.  However, I got used to it pretty quickly, which was a surprise to me, as usually I love proper grammar in the stories I read.  I was also surprised by my enjoyment of this book because it is a dystopian novel, and I usually don’t like dystopian novels.  The most annoying thing that I found in this book, however, was the treatment of Daisy’s eating disorder.  I thought it was taken way too lightly…she understands, eventually, that she was wrong and needed to eat more, but even so, it is not treated very harshly.  Daisy never gets sick from her lack of eating, and instead it is used as an excuse; she is better off once food becomes scarce because she is used to not eating, and she doesn’t get her period because she is so thin, which makes their travels simpler.
There are definitely a few reasons this book was not a surprise hit for me, though, which I suppose balances out what was mentioned above.  The number one reason I liked this book was the setting.  I love England, and the English countryside especially.  When Daisy described the house her cousins lived in I could picture it exactly, and her complete fondness of her surroundings was lovely.
Daisy is the second reason I liked this book.  Being a girl from a big American city going out to a little village in the middle of nowhere seemed like a grand opening for serious teen angst.  She did complain about her stepmother and “Damien” (which just made me smile), but aside from that, I found Daisy very mellow for a teenage main character.  I don’t want to stereotype teenagers in literature, obviously, but the other books I have read this semester always had some serious level of angst in them, and it always drives me insane…I can relate to how those characters sometimes felt, but I don’t really want to hear about it.  Daisy, however, was not like that, and I was happily surprised.  She took to her surroundings and her new life as if she had always been there, and right from the beginning, she acted more like an adult than a teenager.
That is reason number three why I loved this book so much.  Understandably, the book is written from Daisy’s perspective, so there is the possibility that some of what she wrote was more mature than the actual events which took place.  However, she does write this years after it happened, and the fact that she still describes her and her cousins’ actions in the way she does makes me believe (or want to believe, at any rate) that this group of teens and children were a very mature lot.  I thought their little family-unit was fantastic, and I loved how each character had his or her own special part to play in that.  I was also so happy with the way Daisy and Edmond’s relationship panned out.  The whole concept is very taboo, and yet, Rosoff presented it in a ‘here it is, it is here, now deal with and let’s get on with life’ sort of way.  Daisy even comments that the war was only an excuse for what they felt, and I was very appreciative of the ending, where old memories are not erased and there is still hope (for me, anyways) that someday things will be like they once were, to some extent.
The treatment of the war was very interesting, especially because in the beginning I thought ‘that would never happen’, and much later Rosoff would explain things in a way that made the unbelievable believable.  I was also really taken by the scene in which Daisy and Piper turn up at the house Edmond and the others are supposed to be at.  The scene was disturbing, for sure, and for some reason it really made me think of 28 Days Later, when the group stops for gas and Jim goes into the restaurant.  I’m not sure why I made this link, but I really, really did, which made the scene more cinematic in my mind, and more powerful, too.
I could go on more about this book, but I think I’ll stop now.  I’m very interested to read more of Rosoff’s work, and I am very happy I chose How I Live Now to read this week.
Cross-Posted at: The Cat With Green Wings

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