HOW I LIVE NOW – MEG ROSOFF

Daisy is sent to England to visit her aunt and cousins she's never met. When her aunt goes away on business and the bombs go off, Daisy and her cousins are forgotten at their farm.
Despite the war, it's a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy's bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and they must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the most elemental way.

I have had a mixed range of feelings about this book.  On one hand, I thought it was a powerful, inspiring story but, on the other, it kind of just pissed me off.

The threat of war is looming all over the world and Daisy is sent from her evil stepmother and city life in Manhattan to live out a simple existence in the English countryside with her cousins and Aunt.  She lives out her time in England in contentment and bliss, forming unbreakable attachments to her new friends.  
In all their time alone, Daisy found herself slowly falling in love with Edmond, and he with her.  As their relationship develops they find themselves spending all their time together in joyous merriment.  But England is invaded by an unnamed enemy force and the children are snatched from their isolated peace to be thrown in to the tumultuous chaos of war.  Separated from her cousins, Daisy looks to bring her family back together and escape the clutches of war.

One of my major issues with this book was the grammar, and that’s a big thing for me.  The whole idea behind the writing in this book was that it should feel like it came straight from our main character, a young girl in a time of war and confusion.  I think this could’ve been powerful if done well, but it wasn't.  I love the idea of stepping into the mind of Daisy, seeing and feeling everything with the same passion as she would have.  For some reason, Rosoff decided that this would mean removing the punctuation and flow from the story. 
Having to drag myself through a sentence with 7 different ‘and’s in it or not being able to tell if someone is speaking or not because of a lack of quotation marks got a tad tedious and made my head spin.  It thickened the writing, forcing me to put in more effort and slowing my reading.  I wasn't impressed. 


While the plot was (kind of) fascinating, it seemed to dawdle a little and didn’t get into anything important, or even interesting, for a long while.  I found this beyond odd for a book as small as it is but there was a lot of blank events, almost fillers, at the start that did little to set up the story or the relationships.  The characters were so separate from the events at the start of the book that they didn’t seem to care about what was happening, so nothing happened…

As for the characters, they were young and naïve, stupid in their own special ways and completely self-absorbed and unconcerned for the welfare of the world (even the people closest to them).  Daisy couldn’t get over her jealousy of the new baby and lived in constant fear that her stepmother wanted to poison her so she became anorexic.  As for her cousins, Osbert was determined to hang with his friends and spy on the soviets, Isaac spent all his time talking to animals and Edmond could seemingly read minds.  The only normal one was Piper, a sweet young thing with killer survival skills (convenient much).  They frustrated me to no end and I wish they could’ve done more than form incestual relations and frolic in meadows.

I must say that the ending was good though.  If it wasn’t for the unexpected strength of the ending, this book would have not gone quite so far.  How I Live Now presented a perspective on the events of war which are rarely explored and was a stimulating read once past the start.  I probably won’t read it again but I also don’t consider it a complete waste of time.  I won’t, however, go so far as to say that it wasn’t a disappointment.

Rating: 2.5/5


To get your own copy of this book, head over to Amazon

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