How I Live Now was sent to me as part of a book swap and it was a novel I was previously unaware of, infact reading the blurb it's one I doubt I would have ever picked up and bought myself. It is a young adult novel which I don't mind at all as I quite like young adult books now and then and this one is just bloody brilliant!
Fifteen-year-old New Yorker Daisy thinks she knows all about love. Her mother died giving birth to her, and now her dad has sent her away for the summer, to live in the English countryside with cousins she's never even met.
There she'll discover what real love is: something violent, mysterious and wonderful. There her world will be turned upside down and perfect summer will explode into a million bewildering pieces.
How will Daisy live then?
Set in a modern Third World War, How I Live Now is the story of Daisy, an American teenager with more problems than your average person. She doesn’t get on with her father and stepmother, and out of this, psychological problems have developed – involving her eating habits in particular.
When she is sent away to England, Daisy moves in with her aunt and cousins she’s never met, and she soon begins to learn more about her mother and understand what it’s like to be surrounded by a loving family. However her relationship with her cousin Edmond confuses and excites Daisy, and they embark on an intimate relationship. When England becomes occupied by the enemy, the family is split up and Daisy must find a way to look after her young cousin Piper while trying to reunite with the other members of her family.
Told from Daisy’s point of view, the war remains very much in the background until near the end of the book – but despite the breezy nature of the writing and the Daisy’s dismissal of the facts, adult readers of the book can very easily imagine the scenes of death and destruction in the quiet countryside. I found the relationship between Edmond and Daisy an interesting one given that they are blood related; however the purity and intensity of the relationship allows you to look past this and see two people that are meant to be together. The end of the book was also very well-written, as Daisy slowly looks to rebuild her life and relationships with those that bear the physical and mental scars of war.
I found How I Live Now to be a very simple yet powerful portrayal of love, loss and healing. Although it can certainly be enjoyed by the Young Adult audience it’s aimed at, I think adults will also get a lot from it and perhaps read it a little differently.