Young Adult Literature Review #1

How I Live Now

Author: Meg Rosoff


Reading Level: 8.5 grade level equivalent (according to Scholastic)

Synopsis: How I Live Now tells the story of Daisy, a fifteen year old girl who is sent from her home in New York to her cousins’ home in England.  As if her life hasn’t been upended enough (growing up without a mother and now being pushed out of her home by her stepmother), the first moments of tranquility that she experiences in England are followed by an outbreak of war.  Though Daisy and her cousins at first avoid the consequences of the global conflict, they are soon forced to fight for their survival as the structure of society crashes down around them.

Context/Themes: This would be an interesting novel to include in a unit with other novels about war.  Written from the perspective of a civilian teenage girl, it could be a thought-provoking contrast to other books that focus on the perspectives of soldiers.  As a contemporary view of war, it could also be used to explore questions about how the shifting nature of war has affected, and continues to affect, our world.  While the context of war is bleak, a breath of ethereality weaves throughout the story, offering a hopeful juxtaposition to the tragic reality that the characters face.  Within a world that is falling apart, Daisy is still a teenager learning to live in a new home, and intertwined through the chaos of war are her first experiences with family friendships, romance, and sex.  Unexpected bonds of love help to balance the emotional weight and allow the reader to experience a mixture of hope and despair.

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