How I live now is an incredibly powerful and compelling book and I found is almost impossible to put down. The book is intended for older children, but contains some shocking aspects such as incest and some fairly gruesome violence (probably nothing that most children don’t see on TV) I think that the book could be viewed differently at different maturity levels.
Daisy has arrived from Manhattan to spend some time with her cousins in the English countryside. Her father has remarried and she doesn’t get on with her pregnant stepmother who she refers to as ‘Davina the Diabolical’. Daisy is 15 years old, anorexic and pretty full of herself, but soon finds herself at peace with her eccentric cousins who talk to animals, understand nature and read minds.
Shortly after Daisy arrives, her Aunt Penn, who is ‘involved with the peace process’, goes away to Oslo for a few days. After Aunt Penn leaves, the war (WWIII) begins and she is unable to return to England. Initially the war does not have much impact on the children, they are just enjoying being a group of children living with no adult and doing whatever they like. It is at this time that the relationship between Daisy and her cousin Edmund begins to change.
Eventually the war starts to encroach on the lives of the children. Communication with the rest of the world becomes impossible, and there are power cuts and food shortages. The children, as typical children, are not very concerned about news of bombs, mass poisonings and death tolls, and are still mostly enjoying life. They are living in a large house on a large property and eventually the army takes over the house and the children are separated and sent away to live with other people. Daisy and her youngest cousin, Piper, spend the rest of the war trying to re-unite with the three boys, and in the process, they all experience hardships and become acquainted with the darker side of war.
The last part of the book is set 6 years later with Daisy back in the USA still trying to come to terms with what happened during the war. She eventually travels back to England to re-unite with her remaining cousins.
This is an amazing book about love, compassion and emotional scars. The end of the story makes you realise that, for some problems, there can never be a solution. I am planning to search for some more books by Meg Rosoff.
Book Published 2004