Title: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Summary: Daisy is forced out of her home and is shipped off to England to live with her cousins. She finds herself as happy as she has every been. Just when life seems magical, war breaks out, turning everything upside down and putting all five children in serious peril.
Review: This is the second time I've read this book and I still adore it. Usually I can look at things from a more analytical stand point the second time I read something but Rosoff manages to drag every emotion out of you while you read. My heart ached and I got angry and I got annoyed and I was happy and smiling and sometimes I was doing all these things simultaneously.
There are a lot of issues that arise in her book. Within the first half of the book the reader is presented with anorexia, telepathy and incest. Usually incest creeps me out but the way that Rosoff presents it you almost forget that they're cousins. There's also the part that Daisy at no point condones her own actions. She knows it's not normal and that people would frown on it and Edmond and her keep it from the rest of the family in the beginning.
All of these things fit, however, because they were in the middle of a war. Things aren't normal during a war and Rosoff portrayed that wonderfully. Food and gas and water all get rationed and everyone works because, really, what else are you going to do? Even when Daisy was planning to escape, she still picked apples and farmed and did what she could to help.
Rosoff showed how dangerous war could be. The Major that Daisy and Piper are staying with gets shot when he got out of the car to help a civilian that had been shot seconds before, so close to Daisy that their blood sprayed onto her. They trekked for miles and miles to reach Edmond and Piper's other brothers, only to be met by rotting bodies. They'd stumbled into a massacre. The whole time both Daisy and Piper were almost starving to death, eliminating Daisy's anorexia.
I like that Rosoff keeps it logical. Daisy didn't eat because she felt a certain amount of power when she refrained from food. In a war, everyone was starving, so that power disappeared and so did Daisy's need to not eat. When Daisy was forced back to the states, she didn't come back to England right away. It was six years before Daisy was able to return to England and Edmond. Edmond was a disaster when she found him. He thought that she had left him and had seen horrible things. He watched the massacre happen that Daisy and Piper only saw the results of. He wasn't healed by the end of the book, wasn't magically better just because Daisy had returned. Edmond took things out on himself, resorting to cutting himself as if he deserved to be punished. None of this really stopped when Daisy returned. Eventually Daisy's presence was helpful and he began to heal but he still didn't talk to anyone; still didn't recover and that's how it ended. I enjoyed that it wasn't easy and that even in the end, there were still problems. That's how life works. Sometimes, things just don't get better for a long time if they ever get better at all.
Rosoff's writing style drives me a little crazy. I understand it's stylistic and meant to be Daisy's consciousness but the run on sentences are almost maddening. The seemingly random capitalization also baffles me and drives me a little crazy. Despite this, I like that at the end the style changes. The sentences are more structured and purposeful and a lot of the capitalization disappears. Daisy is older, more mature so therefore she's slowed down a little.
The telepathy is also a little much. Rosoff tries to play it off, making Daisy believe but not entirely but it was a little over the top for me. I always have issues with fantasy mixing with a story that's supposed to be reality but this irks me more than usual. Edmond was more than incredibly intuitive, which I could have handled. When he seemed to read her mind in the beginning I could have believed that he was just one of those types of people who always seems to know what you need. When they were having conversations and visits after Daisy and Piper were taken away is when I started getting bothered.
I recommend this book to almost everyone I know but reading it a second time I think it needs a certain kind of reader. There are a lot of hard topics: war, grief, horror, anorexia, cutting, incest. A lot of these can be topics that make people uncomfortable but I think that Rosoff handles them in a responsible and believable way. The book deals with a lot of issues you find in problem novels but, since she didn't write it to be a problem novel, you don't get the "happy ending" that you often get in problem novels.
Read this and all my reviews at my Goodreads account.
Books read this year: 43
Currently Reading: A Katrina Moment by Alexandra Everist (Which I won for free off Goodreads!!!)