How I Live Now
Meg Rosoff
186 pages, published 2004
Dad was one of those Never Mention Her Name Again type of fathers which if you ask me was extremely unpsychologially correct of him. [...]

I sometimes wished someone would just fill me in on the simple boring things like did she have big feet or wear make-up and what was her favourite song and did she like dogs or have a nice voice and what books did she read etc. I made up my mind to ask Aunt Penn some of these questions when she came back from Oslo but I guess what you really want to know are the things you can't ask like Did she have eyes like yours and When you pushed my hair back was that what it feels like to have your mother do it and Did her hands look serious and quiet like yours and Did she ever have a chance to look at me with a complicated expression like the one on your face, and by the way Was she scared to die. (p20)

How I Live Now
was certainly a unexpected novel, with a very unique voice. I didn't really know what it was about when I started reading it (assigned reading, again) and I was very suprised by what I found.
Daisy (much to "plain" to be 'Elizabeth') is fifteen and suffering from both an eating disorder (somewhat glossed over) and a new stepmother. "Shipped off" to London to live with her Aunt Penn and her four odd cousins she is actually quite pleased to be away from the noise of the city and her evil stepmother, even if it does mean giving him her cell phone reception. Daisy settles in quite easily with her cousins and, when her Aunt is called to give a peace talk, the kids take to enjoying their parent-free life.
Their fun parent-free weekend, however, turns indefinate when her Aunt is unable to return home, blockades obstructing her way home. It seems that the war (completely undefined) has finally broken out. Still, as the war has yet to truly touh their lives, the kids find enjoyment in the preparation and hustle of the town war efforts.

But when their house is taken as a base of operations and the children are separated this all changes. They are torn apart and want nothing more to be together and help protect each other, but can Daisy and her youngest cousin, Piper, make their way back to the others and survive the war at the same time?

Staying alive was what we did to pass the time. (149)

I really enjoyed How I Live Now. It was unusual to read a war-time book where the war is almost entirely skimmed over - all the side effects, but none of the causes. Rosoff's characters were fascinating, almost fantastical, and added an almost indescribable element to the book - it's definately not fantasy, but it's not a straight realist novel either. I did have some issues with the book though - namely that the romantic interest (a fully-fledged sexual affair, at that) was between Daisy and her fourteen year old cousin Edmond. Aside from a small acknowledgement that this was an odd or unusual relationship it was completely accepted - even by the others as they learn of it. 3/5

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