Tuesday, 27 January 2009

How I live Now - Meg Rosoff

It would much easier to tell this story if it were all about a chaste and perfect love between Two Children Against the World at an Extreme Time in History but let's face it that would be a load of crap.

The real truth is that the war didn't have much to do with it except that it provided a perfect limbo in which two people who were too young and too related could start kissing without anything or anyone making us stop.

I knew Meg Rosoff from Just in Case. I didn't like the book itself, but I fell in love with the writing. How I live Now is less sophisticated in the language, but definitely a much more engaging story.
It's about 15-year-old Daisy, a Newyorker who is sent to England to spend the summer with her cousins in the country. It seems the beginning of a perfect summer. Daisy finds a welcoming and caring family, an idyllic landscape, and love. But World War III has other plans for them, and it won't be long till it catches up with Daisy's perfect life.
Although I was completely enthralled by the story, I was even more enamoured with the style. Rosoff created a language for Daisy that was overflowing. It ran fast and effortlessly and enthralled me completely. The use of indirect speech and capitalized letters was funny and pertinent, while the wording of sardonic phrases such as my unpleasantly populated subconscious made me giggle with delight.
Beside the style, the characters are the kind that you're going to miss at the end, and wish you had met. Especially sweet, serious, little Piper, with her dog Jet, and Isaac, who understands animals more than people, and Edmond, who can read people minds.
Daisy is a great character too and I loved the way she grows up through the course of the summer. She tells the story in first person, but at first you can tell she's not completely honest, especially about her anorexia. As if she was trying to underestimate her problem, even to herself. But as things unravel and war gets in the middle between her and her newfound love, Daisy will have to deal with the immediacy of reality and somehow overcome her personal problems in order to take care of others.

In the midst of all the drama, though, there is space for glimpses of humour, thanks to Daisy's ironic view of the world. One of my favourite scenes is when, to help Jet who is great at guiding the cows to pasture but can't do everything, they find a silly Border Collie named Ben:
Piper tried to train some sense into dim Ben, practising over and over again until he was just this side of useless. He still ran away bleating if any of the cows took it into their heads to look at him sideways, but most of the time they couldn't be bothered and he managed to muddle through. Sometimes I caught Jet giving him a look that was totally unimpressed and I could almost see Jet thinking Excuse me, who invited this blockhead to the party? And sometimes I wondered if he might be thinking the same thing about me.

It didn't end the way the way I wanted, but it didn't have to. I guess there couldn't have been a different ending, but in my heart I always imagine a bit more, a little bit far ahead in the future, and I see it shining bright. What can I say, I'm a hopeless romantic.

other blog reviews:
Things mean a lot
The Hidden Side of a Leaf
The Written World
Leafing Through Life
Out of the Blue
Bending Bookshelves
A Striped Armchair
Bold Blue Adventure
In Spring it is the Dawn
Some Reads
The Written Word
Presenting Lenore
The Compulsive Reader
Adventures in Multiplicity
Miss Print
“Fiddle-de-dee’s not English”

Shop Indie Bookstores


Ana S. said...

I loved Daisy's voice too! It was one of my favourite things about the book. As for the ending, I was actually relieved because I was fearing the absolute worst. (I don't want to write anything spoilerish, but you probably know what I mean by this.) We don't get a happy ending per se, but at least there's hope!

mariel said...

I remember working at the shop when this came out and all buzz about it. I meant to have a read and see what all the hype was about, but for some reason I never felt the time was right (I'm such a flighty reader!). Having read so many review recently though, including Dewey's, I feel more inspired, so I've chosen it for Dewey's Book Challenge. Your review just convinced me I made the right choice! Thanks.

valentina said...

I know what you mean Ana, I feared it too, but when I actually got to the crucial part I wished it could all be the same like it was at the beginning...silly me.
I've talked to some people and they had big problems with them being so closely related. I haven't given much thought about it, especially because marriages between cousins was an accepted practice in a not-so-faraway past. but I suppose some people might be grossed out by it...

mariel,good that you chose it, I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts!