Before we start this post I should just warn you that I stayed Up Far Too Late last night being completely immersed in the world that Meg Rosoff created so deftly in “How I Live Now” and the main character whose name is Elizabeth but who goes by Daisy is fifteen years old and sharp and fast and funny and sad and fierce and narrates in seemingly endless sentences that take up entire paragraphs but that sound exactly Like a 15 Year Old You Know when you’re following along and you don’t even realize they’ve left you breathless until you get to the end and by then you can’t wait to keep going to see What Happens Next.
In case you couldn’t tell, Wonderfuls, “How I Live Now” is unlike anything I’ve read so far in this Challenge. When I first talked about it a couple of weeks ago, I called it “visceral and wonderful and raw and emotional” and now, 147 pages later, I’m thinking that I need to revise that statement, because it doesn’t even begin to cover how impacted I feel after reading this book and how deeply attached I became to these characters in that short time.
(I’m even finding myself thinking and sounding like Daisy – did you notice?!?)
Much like in “Ender’s Game”, “How I Live Now” plops us down in the middle of a future world that looks a little like ours but isn’t, really, and simply expects us to keep up. The difference here is that Daisy is older, and more cynical, than my beloved Ender, so while she may be equipped to understand more of what’s happening around her, she’s also much less inclined to trust any of it. There’s a war going on, you see, and there’s all kinds of misinformation out there.
The story begins with Daisy being sent to stay with cousins on a remote farm in the English countryside during the outbreak of a third world war at an unspecified time in the 21st century. It continues with Daisy discovering a family she never knew she had and then fighting to keep that family together in circumstances she could never have imagined.
Oh, and did I mention that it’s also a love story?
I’m not even going to talk about that part of the novel here, because my emotions are still too close to the surface and I don’t particularly feel like weeping all over my laptop this morning. I will say, though, that this element of the story was a source of some controversy when it was published a few years ago, so if you’re a parent you may want to do a little Googling before suggesting this book for your child’s first back to school book report of September.
Speaking only for myself, all I can say is that while I can understand why the romantic relationship between Daisy and another character may have raised some eyebrows, Daisy’s description of what it feels like to be a teenager in love might be the most honest and truthful account of that experience that I’ve come across in fiction. (And this is coming from the girl who has reread “Romeo and Juliet” nearly every year since tenth grade English. For fun).
If you’ve already read the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. If you haven’t, I’d love to know who the last fictional character you became emotionally involved with was! Either way, let’s talk in the Comments. I could use your company today!
I’ll do my best to lighten the mood with tomorrow’s Wordful Wednesday. In the meantime, I need to pull myself together and find myself some chocolate.