Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Meg Rosoff, 'How I Live Now'

This is another delight I found in the depths of my reading list - I must remember to thank my tutor for guiding me towards so many great books! The book was intended for teenagers and young adults, but I have to say it is so powerful and relevant that it would engross someone whose adolescence is just a distant memory. Rosoff does a great job of writing as a fifteen year old girl, Daisy, who has been sent from New York to live with her Aunt and cousins in the English countryside. 
You are instantly drawn to Daisy, she is honest to the reader, but painfully secretive to those around her - particularly her father and her questionably evil stepmother, 'Davina the Diabolical'. Daisy's honesty is both funny, she has 'one of the best Oh Yeah, This Is So Much What I Usually Do kind of faces', but also desperately sad. She lacks the closeness of a mother figure, due to her own mother's death when she was in labour, and has such low self esteem that she has convinced herself she is unimportant and unattractive. Her pain is exhibited in her anorexia, which she explains and describes in such a way that the reader is both educated in why someone would develop the disorder, and warned - it is not glamorized, and Daisy is never praised for being so thin - refreshingly veering away from the ridiculous size zero celebrity culture. 
Rosoff's writing about the love between Daisy and Edmond, her cousin, conjures a nostalgia for one's first love; the excitement, the secrecy, the intensity of it all. This boiling pot of hormones and teenage issues is then thrown into the horrific chaos of war, a war where these children fight to survive without the help of, and in fact against, adults. It is in this extreme test of character and endurance that Daisy proves she is not as insignificant and invisible as she had thought. It is an often horrendous coming-of-age journey she must complete in order to overcome her insecurities, her disorder, and realise that love is all that matters.
A blunt, beautiful insight into what someone can achieve, when they would be the last to have believed it.

Meg Rosoff, 'How I Live Now' - 4/5

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