How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff 4 stars
Say there’s an anorexic American teenager who goes to visit her aunt in England and falls in love with her cousin who happens to have a form of ESP — just as world war breaks out.
You might think, what a weird premise for a book. But that’s How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff.
Daisy, who has been cast off by her father and stepmother, goes to England to meet her aunt. Daisy’s mother died at her birth, and she’s never met her British relatives. But her aunt travels often for work, leaving Daisy with her cousins and their strange customs and pets. She’s both intrigued and somewhat repulsed, having grown up in NYC and not in the countryside. But gradually she gets to know the empathetic, loving family, and just as she finds her place with them, war changes everything.
The dialect is pure self-absorbed teenager, even as Daisy faces starvation (not self-imposed) and separation during the war. That’s what makes the book amusing even as it Tackles Serious Issues (as Daisy would say/write). Yet Meg Rosoff also embraces a huge degree of anonymity. We know they’re in England and we know there’s a war. That’s ALL we know — although that may be a plot device (see: teenagers, self-absorbed). We don’t know the year or the time frame — there’s vague reference to internet and email so it must be current/future — and we don’t know much about Daisy’s family except what’s happening in the now. It works, as a device.
There’s enough detail and yet enough left to imagine that the pacing is fantastic — until the end, which felt incredibly rushed. Thank goodness this book isn’t 1 of 2, or a trilogy, because I’d hate to see it stretched out beyond the story. But the ending is abrupt and doesn’t do much for the storyline.
Highly recommend on basis of creativity and storyline (and editing) alone.
Also, it’s going to be released as a movie in the fall!
I look forward to seeing it.