Things go from bad to worse in short order for Daisy, the endearing but decidedly imperfect heroine of Meg Rosoff’s fascinating young adult novel, How I Live Now. Exiled from her New York home to England to escape a difficult relationship with her new stepmother, Daisy soon finds herself in a situation much more trying than a mere family crisis. Shortly after the anorexic American teenager arrives at the country home of her somewhat eccentric cousins, England is invaded and occupied by a fearsome (unnamed) enemy force. Daisy’s aunt—a diplomat pursuing last-minute efforts to avoid war—is trapped abroad, leaving Daisy and her four young cousins home alone.
Daisy finds herself falling for one of her male cousins, Osbert, and the teenagers lead an almost blissful existence, ignoring the chaos around them. Their brief idyllic taste of freedom ends abruptly, however, when they are rounded up by authorities and sent away to other locations. Daisy and her youngest cousin, Piper, are separated from the boys in the family and settled at the home of a young Army officer in a distant town.
When violence escalates horribly in the area, Daisy and Piper have no choice but to set off on a terrifying odyssey to find their family members. Hungry, cold and scared, they hike for endless days in the hope of being reunited with the boys. Rosoff describes their trek so vividly that readers are likely to find themselves as frightened and anxious as the characters.
A native of Boston who has lived in England for several years, Rosoff has crafted an unforgettable and original world in How I Live Now, her first novel. The voice of Daisy, in particular, is a stunning creation—gritty, inticing and utterly real throughout. With elements of teenage rebellion, romance, adventure and near-future science fiction, this original work is that rare “crossover”—a novel that will delight both male and female teen readers.