Thursday, July 27, 2006

Review: How I Live Now

I know How I Live Now has been reviewed by many kidlitosphere bloggers, but it's one of those books that you just can't resist talking about.

How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff, is fifteen-year-old Daisy's story. Told in first person narration, How I Live Now begins with Daisy's expulsion from New York at the hands of her father and new stepmother, Davina "the Diabolical."

Daisy is sent to England to live with her deceased mother's sister, Aunt Penn, and her four children. Aunt Penn and the children live in an almost mythical rural space with a house out of a fairy tale:
  • "First let's get it clear that the house is practically falling down, but for some reason that doesn't seem to make any difference to how beautiful it is. It's made out of big chunks of yellowish stone, and has a steep roof, and is shaped like an L around a big courtyard with fat pebbles set in the ground. The short part of the L has a wide arched doorway and it used to be the stable, but now it's the kitchen and it's huge, with zigzag brick floors and big windows all across the front and a stable door that's left open. Whenever it's not actually snowing, says Edmond."

Edmond is one of Daisy's cousins, a chain-smoking, jeep-driving, skinny fourteen year old who just happens to be able to read Daisy's mind. Isaac is Edmond's twin, but instead of reading Daisy's mind, he communes with animals and speaks little. Daisy's oldest cousin, Osbert, has the superior manner of many an eldest sibling and is eager to leave Eden behind and begin moving in the world of adults.* Finally, there is nine-year-old Piper, the only girl and a beautiful, solemn child who likes to hold Daisy's hand.

Aunt Penn leaves almost as soon as Daisy arrives to take part in peace negotiations in Oslo. There's a World War on the horizon you see, but the kids are unclear on the details. So much so, that when the war breaks out and there are bombings in the U.S. and the U.K., they don't even know who the enemy is. Instead they live in a paradise of flowers, food, beautiful weather, and, even, love between Edmond and Daisy.

When the U.K. is occupied, however, everything changes. The kids are split up and violent death is all around them. I'm not going to spoil the ending for you as it was one I could not predict at all.

How I Live Now is not for readers younger than twelve. There are some sensitive themes--anorexia, love between first cousins, violence in war. How I Live Now is, however, for every reader over the age of fifteen. It's a classic.


* No offense meant to eldest children. I'm one myself.


Can any of you explain what's happening to blogger images? Sometimes, like now, I can not post an image even though it says "done." Other times it works. Please help me. I like images!