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How I Live Now Hardcover – August 24, 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 285 customer reviews

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Hardcover, August 24, 2004
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Realistic fiction for tweens
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Possibly one of the most talked about books of the year, Meg Rosoff's novel for young adults is the winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2004. Heralded by some as the next best adult crossover novel since Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, who himself has given the book a thunderously good quote, this author's debut is undoubtedly stylish, readable and fascinating.

Rosoff's story begins in modern day London, slightly in the future, and as its heroine has a 15-year-old Manhattanite called Daisy. She's picked up at the airport by Edmond, her English cousin, a boy in whose life she is destined to become intricately entwined. Daisy stays at her Aunt Penn's country farmhouse for the summer with Edmond and her other cousins. They spend some idyllic weeks together--often alone with Aunt Penn away travelling in Norway. Daisy's cousins seem to have an almost telepathic bond, and Daisy is mesmerized by Edmond and soon falls in love with him.

But their world changes forever when an unnamed aggressor invades England and begins a years-long occupation. Daisy and Edmond are separated when soldiers take over their home, and Daisy and Piper, her younger cousin, must travel to another place to work. Their experiences of occupation are never kind and Daisy's pain, living without Edmond, is tangible.

Rosoff's writing style is both brilliant and frustrating. Her descriptions are wonderful, as is her ability to portray the emotions of her characters. However, her long sentences and total lack of punctuation for dialogue can be exhausting. Her narrative is deeply engaging and yet a bit unbelievable. The end of the book is dramatic, but too sudden. The book has a raw, unfinished feel about it, yet that somehow adds to the experience of reading it. (Age 14 and over) --John McLay

From Publishers Weekly

This riveting first novel paints a frighteningly realistic picture of a world war breaking out in the 21st century. Told from the point of view of 15-year-old Manhattan native Daisy, the novel follows her arrival and her stay with cousins on a remote farm in England. Soon after Daisy settles into their farmhouse, her Aunt Penn becomes stranded in Oslo and terrorists invade and occupy England. Daisy's candid, intelligent narrative draws readers into her very private world, which appears almost utopian at first with no adult supervision (especially by contrast with her home life with her widowed father and his new wife). The heroine finds herself falling in love with cousin Edmond, and the author credibly creates a world in which social taboos are temporarily erased. When soldiers usurp the farm, they send the girls off separately from the boys, and Daisy becomes determined to keep herself and her youngest cousin, Piper, alive. Like the ripple effects of paranoia and panic in society, the changes within Daisy do not occur all at once, but they have dramatic effects. In the span of a few months, she goes from a self-centered, disgruntled teen to a courageous survivor motivated by love and compassion. How she comes to understand the effects the war has had on others provides the greatest evidence of her growth, as well as her motivation to get through to those who seem lost to war's consequences. Teens may feel that they have experienced a war themselves as they vicariously witness Daisy's worst nightmares. Like the heroine, readers will emerge from the rubble much shaken, a little wiser and with perhaps a greater sense of humanity. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)
Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: NC1620L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 194 pages
  • Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books; First Edition first Printing edition (August 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385746776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385746779
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (285 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,017,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Christenbury on August 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
It's been at least two months since I read How I Live Now, and I still think about it almost daily. I'm definitely an adult - in fact, I have a master's degree in English - and this is one of the most thought-provoking books I've ever read.

Briefly, the plot:

Daisy, our narrator, is not a very admirable character when the novel begins. Sent to rural England to live with her deceased mother's family, Daisy is at first shocked at the conditions of life with her aunt's large family.

Soon after Daisy arrives, her aunt must go on an emergency trip to help with peace negotiations, leaving her children and Daisy alone. Thus begins an idyllic summer - the group at the farm is aware a military force has taken over the country, but specifics are hard to come by, and life goes on as normal in their corner of the world, so by and large they ignore the crisis. With no telephone, no internet, no television or radio, the kids come to enjoy their isolation and Daisy begins a sexual relationship with her cousin Edmond.

The world won't stay away forever, though. Eventually military forces arrive and take the children to allegedly "safe" places, separating the boys and the girls.

Daisy's devastation at losing contact with Edmond fades quickly once she realizes that the war, if that is indeed what it is, has closed in around her and presents a real, personal threat.

Daisy and her young cousin Piper eventually make their way back home, and Daisy leaves the country to return to America through her father's subterfuge. But what she has seen has scarred her forever, and draws her back to the rural English farm.

We also see how quickly war turns children into adults.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
This book is told in the smartmouthed voice of an American teenager named Daisy who is stranded in England with her cousins (three teen boys and a younger girl named Piper) when the Bad Thing happens. There is a bomb, there are more bombs, there is an occupation by unnamed foreigners, there is a resistance, but what there is, mostly, is a huge radio silence. Little tv, no cell phones, no internet, and finally, no electricity.

Daisy is bleak and funny. Daisy's cousins are homeschooled, self-sufficient and psychic, and they get on with the business of survival. There is love and sex, but nothing graphic, and Daisy wrestles with the morality of what she's doing, which I think is a refreshing aspect to bring to a YA book.

As a work of fiction, this book is beautifully characterized, with an odd, beautiful family at its center. Even in hard wartime conditions, the humanity of the characters remains. Soldiers kill out of fear, not hatred. Mothers grieve, fathers try to fix things, there are kind soldiers who treasure the innocence of children rather than brutalizing it. There are good dogs. None of it is as treacle as I make it sound. It's a difficult story and Daisy, the narrating character, is one tough, messed-up girl. But like Children of Men, this book offers recognizable humanity, and some hope.

I'm not sure how 12 year-old would respond to a story this bleak, but I love it, all my kids love it (17 and up) and I recommend it highly.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the story of Daisy, a fifteen year old who goes to England to live with her cousins in the not-too-distant future. It is not giving anything away to say that Daisy begins a love affair with her cousin Edmond, but all their lives are changed as a war breaks out and England becomes an occupied state. At first the kids are self-sufficient and untouched by the horrors, but as the story develops, shades of World War 2 begin to overcome them as they face separation, deprivation, and ultimate loss. Daisy speaks in a believable voice that takes you into her soul and makes you feel what she does. This one is highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Told from the unforgettable point of view of a 15-year-old girl called Daisy, Meg Rosoff's HOW I LIVE NOW is a compelling debut novel that has much more meat on its bones than its narrator (who suffers from anorexia). Daisy is sent to England, war breaks out, and she and her cousins -- some of whom can read her mind -- are left without adult supervision. Daisy and her cousin Edmond fall in love, then are separated for the duration of the occupation, and they maintain a kind of pychic connection until something terrible happens to break it.

This is the kind of book you can't put down, one you wish would never end. Some people may quibble over Daisy's rambling thoughts. The sentences are long and the author and editor obviously didn't think punctuation essential. But Daisy's voice comes to you right as if she is talking and thinking, true and real and heartbreaking.

I highly recommend this book to both teens and adults.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a set text on a Creative Writing course. I read it not knowing what to expect and thought it was an incredible piece of writing. The tone, style and narrative structure is brilliant. I became a 15 year old again, living through the angst and joy in Daisy's life. Her interaction with the reader and carefully careless turn of phrase sets this novel apart as something truly special. I didn't realise it was a book for children until I read the credits on the back. I would consider this a much more accomplished text than the 'Curious Incident' and more persuasively teenage in its narration. You should read this book
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