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How I Live Now

March 27, 2008

How I Live NowAfter 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.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. March 27, 2008 10:47 am

    Hmm, interesting book, it sounds like. I haven’t heard of this one. Thanks for a very informative, even-handed, thoughtful review.

  2. March 27, 2008 11:07 am

    This sounds really interesting, with a premise unlike I’ve heard before. I do want to read it now. Thanks for the review!

  3. Cat permalink
    March 27, 2008 12:27 pm

    I love the cover art on this book, but I don’t think the story is up my alley. Sounds a little too heavy for me. Though it is a very pretty book. 🙂

  4. March 27, 2008 2:00 pm

    Cat – I agree, the cover art is amazing, which is probably the reason I even picked it up in the first place. I am like the most perfect consumer. I’m a total sucker for cool book covers.

  5. March 27, 2008 6:48 pm

    So, I wonder if it should go on my TBR. What do you think?

  6. March 27, 2008 7:07 pm

    Chartroose – I don’t know if I would recommend it to everyone – it is a little strange. If you typically read chick-lit or more light stuff, then I wouldn’t bother. If you want something a bit edgy, then this might be right up your alley!

  7. March 28, 2008 7:05 am

    Hi Stephanie – I too am a sucker for a good cover and this one looks like the sort that would catch my eye on a shelf! I’m intrigued by the story line too and will probably add it to my wish list.

    I have to admit I started watching Brokeback Mountain and gave up about half an hour in – it just wasn’t holding my attention.

  8. March 28, 2008 10:15 am

    It definitely sounds like the sort of book that would stick with you even if it wasn’t a perfect read, just because of the fascinating subject matter.

  9. March 28, 2008 2:24 pm

    Mrs. S – I agree, Brokeback was slow in the beginning (just like the book), but once I got a third of the way through it really picked up. In the end if was a thought-provoking movie, but not one that I would necessarily recommend to my friends.

  10. March 28, 2008 3:27 pm

    I haven’t heard of this one. Hubby took me to see Brokeback Mountain and he has never let me live it down–but I was pretty emotionally shaken up with the story. By the way, I love your new header!!

  11. March 28, 2008 7:50 pm

    Interesting post. I liked how you tied those two things together. I felt very similarly about Brokeback Mountain, which I just watched last weekend. The characters stuck with me, and I definitely thought that they were both great actors, but it wasn’t a movie that I was just like “oh my gosh I love this and want to buy it”.

    That sounds like an interesting book by the way, thanks for the great review.

  12. April 1, 2008 11:04 am

    I became quite absorbed in How I Live Now. The cousin love didn’t shock me, but I did wonder why Rosoff chose to go there. Another one I’ve been meaning to read is Into the Forest by Jean Hegland.

  13. April 13, 2008 7:02 pm

    The main thing I look for in books, and the main thing that makes a book special for me, is character. I think that’s why I loved this book so much. Because I loved Daisy and her cousins and aunt. The cousinlove was startling for me at first, but I think I got used to it fast because I had cousins (about that same age) who were “in love” with each other for a while, although of course the parents didn’t know.

    I’m glad Charley wasn’t shocked by it, though, because Into the Forest has, um, more shocking relative sex in it. I loved that book, too, though, but I felt the relative sex scene was unnecessary and out of place in that book.

    I like that you said people who like edgy books will like this one; that makes me feel all hip. 😉

  14. kayla permalink
    March 24, 2010 1:33 pm

    the cousins love thing really ‘freaked’ me out at 1st! it’s soo unconventional you just don’t know what to make of it!
    the way this review covers the book it makes it cound extremely deep and tragic etc. it really wasn’t it was just different! infact really hard to describe! it seems to be set in this weird parralel world or near future, however there is nothing very specific in the book about it’s time period or setting other than ‘england’


  1. How I Live Now - Audiobook « Sassymonkey Reads
  2. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff | Bart's Bookshelf

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