How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff

I feel weird about this book. I liked it, but I’m not really sure what happened, or why I should care about the ending… I’m thinking that maybe this was a little too complex a story for me to have listened to it on audiobook. I thought I was paying enough attention, but maybe if I grab it in print I’ll realize I missed a whole lot of stuff?

The story is about Daisy, a girl from Manhattan who is sent away to live with some relatives in England for a while, which Daisy thinks is because she hates her new stepmother but is more likely because Daisy has some teenage issues (including hating her stepmother) that are the type of thing that a summer in the English countryside is rumored (rumoured, even) to cure. And things do go pretty well… Daisy loves her cousins, and learns a few things about her dead mother from her aunt, and then loves one of her cousins, which is a little weird but possibly not illegal in England, so whatever, and then war breaks out while her aunt is away. Oops. The cousins get separated when their home is sequestered (is that an appropriate construction?) by the army, and Daisy has to deal first with living with a strange new family, then with the realities of war, and then with trying to survive in the wilderness when those realities go crazy.

It’s kind of all over the place, story-wise, but I think the overarching theme is just Daisy bildungsroman-ing (that is not an appropriate construction) as best she can given the insane circumstances she is dealing with. Sometimes life throws you curveballs, I hear this book saying, but has it ever thrown you into circumstances where you have to bivouac? The book thinks not.

And Daisy is a really interesting character — she has those teenage issues, and she sort of knows it, but doesn’t really know it and thinks that it is totally normal to be like her. An example that really stuck with me is when the war has broken out and everyone is beginning that whole rationing/starving thing, which is something Daisy is intimately familiar with, if you catch my drift… anyway, she’s picking at her food and this woman whom Daisy calls a “big girl” or similar is giving Daisy this look, which we all know means, “Goodness, tiny twig thing, it’s not like there’s that much food on your plate, I’m sure your stomach can handle it,” but which Daisy takes to mean, “I wish I had that tiny twig thing’s willpower… I am such a heifer for eating this very tiny portion of food which wouldn’t sustain an amoeba.” It’s a great portrayal of that perfect combination of ego and obliviousness that teenagers have, and I love Rosoff for it. Oh, and Kim Mai Guest, the narrator, does a great job of sounding like an egotistical oblivious teenager without grating on my nerves, so plus ten points to her.

So that’s all well and good, but then there’s this ending part that’s like six years later and I don’t really understand that part or what it has to do with anything, let alone the story as told. If someone could explain it, that would be delightful.

Rating: 7/10 (and probably better if I could understand the ending!)
(Support Your Local Library Challenge)

See also:
medieval bookworm
an adventure in reading
Library Queue
Persnickety Snark
things mean a lot
Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

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