How I Live Now – Meg Rosoff: Review

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Overall Opinion: This was NEARLY a 5 star review, just not quite, because there were a couple of holes in it for me, but what a firecracker of a novel this is. Short, sweet and terrifyingly relevant.

Synopsis: “Every war has turning points and every person too.”

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.

“And this is How I Live Now“… What a gorgeous conclusion to this glorious piece of writing!

I finished reading this on Thursday evening, and what a stunning book it was!

I was a bit dubious at first, the first person narrative took me a while to get into, just because of the way it’s written. I thought: “is this books bit young for me?”. There is very little punctuation as its written in the voice of  our protagonist, a teenage girl called Daisy, so the sentence structure reflects her quick pace of thinking. After the first few (short) chapters, I’d began to get used to this though. I found it worked extremely well and at certain points was beautifully descriptive and created a whole world that I, reading it, could see everything through the eyes of a 14 year old girl, and found this so refreshing.

I did have a couple of issues with the book though, as it only took 20 pages for Daisy to “fall in love” with her first cousin… Now, I’m not close-minded as such, but I found this a little off putting, and overall, I don’t think the story needed it. It felt a little bit like an excuse for a romance. Maybe it just needed a little longer for the relationship to develop, as it happened very suddenly and without much warning or letting us get behind them as a couple enough to justify the search for Edmond thought the story. Get past it. It’s totally irrelevant. Ultimately,  this is a story of survival and an unbreakable family bond, as when it comes to Daisy and Piper being taken away from the rest of their family, that’s what it becomes first and foremost, and this is when it works best.

It’s so great to read a story where two young women are completely taken away from all of their comforts, family, friends and any sort of secure living environment, and forced to survive on their own. Not once did I feel sympathetic for them. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t NEED to. Both Daisy and Piper were given such strength and power that I was 100% behind them until the end. They were a force against nature and an inspiration, showing us that we are undoubtedly stronger than we may appear on the surface, even to ourselves.

The ending was satisfyingly conclusive, and had one of those “happy ever after endings” but with more depth, as clearly lots of things had changed, for better or worse, so overall I felt like I myself had been taken on a journey. We were given enough of an insight into how the aftermath of the war had effected each one of their lives individually, and how they had changed as people, yet still gave breath and scope for us to think about where they could be another 10 years down the line. It was also good to get the other side of the story. The one we didn’t hear as we followed Daisy and Piper. The story of what happened after the war, and what the boys went through and the horrors they had experienced.

The overall pacing was near on perfect, as the action moves along swiftly without being so quick to become unspecific and lacking detail. It was gripping enough to hold my attention, and swift enough so that I definitely could have easily read it in one sitting had I have been given the time!

For a book that I intended on reading when I bought it 10 years ago, the themes presented in it are absolutely timeless, and very much still relevant to me reading it now. All the way throughout all I could think was “this could happen tomorrow for all we know”, and that scared me. It raised the stakes. It make me connect. And that’s when you know you’ve read a darn good book.

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