Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Review: How I Live Now
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Reasons for reading: The Book Awards Challenge - 2005 Michael L. Printz Award winner
Description: "Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy. As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way."
First line: "My name is Elizabeth but no one’s ever called me that."
My thoughts: I can see why this one won the Printz Award - it's raw and intense and really quite different.
At first, being left alone on the farm is like a jolly old-fashioned British children's book - camping out, taking care of the animals, what larks. In this no-adults zone, Daisy and her cousin Edmond fall in love - sex and all. It's quite shocking, but the strange circumstances as well as the cousins' various spiritual powers (Edmond reads minds, his brother Isaac communes with animals, and little Piper is basically, in Daisy's words, a "mystical creature" that everyone adores) seem to mitigate the shock.
After war breaks out, the cousins are forced to leave the farm and live with other families. Soon everything goes to hell and Piper and Daisy stagger out into the wartorn countryside to try to find the rest of their family.
I don't want to ruin the ending, but it's a bit too quick. After the detailed descriptions of the girls' search for home, things accelerate into warp speed and then there's an epilogue 6 years later. That was a bit jarring.
The verdict: Not for those looking for a light-hearted read, but a very powerful, interesting story about the power of love, family, and finding out where you belong, even after horrific experiences.