How I Live Now
by Meg Rosoff
YA fiction. 194 pp.
Wendy Lamb Books. 2004.
2005 Printz Award.
from Kirkus Reviews:
Manhattanite Daisy, 15, moves to London to stay with an aunt and cousins she's never met. Without preamble or fanfare, an unidentified enemy attacks and war ensues. Her aunt is abroad on a peace mission, meaning that Daisy and her three cousins, with whom she forges a remarkable relationship, must survive almost entirely on their own. This is a very relatable contemporary story, told in honest, raw first-person and filled with humor, love, pathos, and carnage. War, as it will, changes these young people irrevocably, not necessarily for the worse. They and readers know that no one will ever be the same. The story of Daisy and her three exceptional cousins, one of whom becomes her first lover, offers a keen perspective on human courage and resilience. An epilogue, set six years after the conclusion, while war still lingers, ends Daisy's story on a bittersweet, hopeful note.
Do you remember yesterday when I talked about how refreshing it was to read Flush as a reprieve from the Weird Award-Winning Books? Well, this is the book it happily interrupted. As you can tell from the summary by Kirkus, this book has some weird stuff to it. Primarily that by page 50, Daisy is, ahem, intimate with her cousin Edmond. It's kinda weird. Okay, it's really weird. But since I read books to their conclusion (a personality flaw I'm cursed with), I finished the book.
There are some things notable about the book. The voice is strong and distinct. The writing style is gripping. There are some wonderful turns of phrases and images here and there. (At one point, Daisy describes eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after a night of fleeing the enemy as "hopeful.") The setting is an odd but extremely well-done combination of contemporary and World War II. The characters themselves are intriguing. Daisy is anorexic (part of the reason she's been shipped off to England). Edmond and Daisy have a telepathic connection that enables them to communicate with each other across wide distances. Edmond's twin brother can communicate with animals, as can his younger sister. And then there's the struggle as Daisy is forced to mature as she tries to cross the country with her youngest cousin in search of their other cousins.
But despite all that's good, I still find that I can't get past the cousin loving. I realize it's not a taboo everywhere and that marriage between cousins is even legal in some places. But still . . .
I can't give this book a full endorsement, but I would be interested in reading this author again.
How I Live Now