How I Live Now
After Heath Ledger’s recent death, I decided to rent Brokeback Mountain. The story of two cowboys who fall in love was the talk of the Academy Awards a few years ago and is known to be one of the actor’s finest performances. I have to say that the movie was interesting, although I didn’t feel that the performances were earth-shattering. Having said that, Brokeback Mountain did stick with me for a while, and I often found myself thinking about the two main characters, Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, and how the movie played out.
This is pretty much the feeling I had reading How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. It is the story of fifteen year old Daisy, who is sent to England by her father and nasty step mother to live with relatives. It’s pretty obvious from the beginning that Daisy has been having lots of problems at home in New York and instead of trying to deal with Daisy’s anorexia any longer, it is decided that she would be better off with Aunt Penn at her farm on the other side of the pond. Once Daisy arrives she meets an eclectic group of cousins, including Edmond, a chain smoking, jeep driving fourteen year old with telepathic abilities. Edmund has a twin brother Issac who hardly says a word (yet has a special way with animals), a nine year old sister Piper and older brother Osmund.
A very short time after Daisy arrives, war breaks out in England and Aunt Penn, who works in some capacity for the government, has been stranded away from the farm. The first couple weeks with no adult supervision seems like heaven, until finally the war arrives on the farm.
The first fifty pages of How I Live Now were slow going for me. I also was taken aback by the developing relationship between Daisy and Edmund. I did understand though how Daisy would begin to feel this way toward her cousin. It is best summed up in this passage:
I didn’t know if the food was poisoned. I didn’t know whether we’d get an infection and die. I didn’t know if a bomb would fall on us. I didn’t know whether Osbert would expose us to spores from some deadly disease picked up during his secret meetings. I didn’t know if we would be taken prisoner, tortured, murdered, raped, forced to confess or inform on our friends.
The only thing I knew for certain was that all around me was more life than I’d ever experienced in all the years I’d been on earth and as long as no one shut me in the barn away from Edmond at night I was safe.
The kids are eventually separated and the last third of the book has them trying to find their way back to the farm. In the end, I found How I Live Now to be an interesting book and it has rattled around in my brain for a while, just like Brokeback Mountain. I didn’t love it, but appreciated it for what it is – a decent read.