Summary and book reviews of How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

How I Live Now

By Meg Rosoff

How I Live Now
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Aug 2004,
    208 pages.
    Paperback: Jul 2005,
    208 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

"EVERY WAR HAS turning points and every person too."

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.

A riveting and astonishing story.

1

My name is Elizabeth but no one’s ever called me that. My father took one look at me when I was born and must have thought I had the face of someone dignified and sad like an old-fashioned queen or a dead person, but what I turned out like is plain, not much there to notice. Even my life so far has been plain. More Daisy than Elizabeth from the word go.

But the summer I went to England to stay with my cousins everything changed. Part of that was because of the war, which supposedly changed lots of things, but I can’t remember much about life before the war anyway so it doesn’t count in my book, which this is.

Mostly everything changed because of Edmond.

And so here’s what happened.


2

I’m coming off this plane, and I’ll tell you why that is later, and landing at London airport and I’m looking around for a middle-aged kind of woman who I’ve seen in pictures who’s my Aunt Penn. The photographs are out of date, but she...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
  • award image

Reviews

BookBrowse

Daisy's voice is totally authentic and the story gripped and just wouldn't let go. More than any recent book, How I Live Now brought home how easily a country could be brought to its knees by a small invading force. As Daisy explains, 'when I heard how it happened I was pretty impressed by the cleverness of the guys who planned it, who as far as I understood basically waited for most of the British Army to be lured into crises on the other side of the world and then waltzed in and cut off all the transportation and communication sand stuff so basically they were defending Britain against its own returning armed forces rather than attacking.' Most poignant of all is a long postscript written by Daisy six years after the war, I have reread these particular chapters a number of times already and will likely return to them again.  

Media Reviews
People Magazine

Rosoff’s narrative poise makes this a book for all ages.....A daring, wise, and sensitive look at the complexities of being young in a world teetering on chaos, Rosoff’s poignant exploration of perseverance in the face of the unknown is a timely lesson for us all.

The Bulletin

Starred review. Daisy’s unapologetic narration is a shockingly funny, disturbingly poignant series of observations. . . . Readers will remain absorbed to the very end by this unforgettable and original story.

Kirkus Reviews

This is a very relatable contemporary story, told in honest, raw first-person and filled with humor, love, pathos, and carnage. War, as it will, changes these young people irrevocably, not necessarily for the worse. They and readers know that no one will ever be the same. (Fiction. 12+)

Booklist - Jennifer Mattson

Starred Review Gr. 8-11. Central to the potency of Rosoff's debut....is the ominous prognostication of what a third world war might look like, and the opportunity it provides for teens to imagine themselves, like Daisy, exhibiting courage and resilience in roles traditionally occupied by earlier generations.

Powells Bookstore Staff Pick

This book for young adults simply captivated me like so few novels for adults will. In a voice that could tell you how to change a light bulb yet still hold you transfixed, fifteen-year-old New Yorker Daisy recalls a summer in the British countryside with her cousins. War breaks out and the children must depend on each other to survive. Her tale is dark, beautiful, and wise. A breathtaking feat of storytelling.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This riveting first novel paints a frighteningly realistic picture of a world war breaking out in the 21st century. . . Readers will emerge from the rubble much shaken, a little wiser, and with perhaps a greater sense of humanity.

The Horn Book

Starred review. This first novel is intelligent, funny, serious, and sweet; a winning combination of acerbic commentary, innocence, and sober vision... Hilarious, lyrical, and compassionate, this is, literarily and emotionally, deeply satisfying.

Kliatt

Starred review. Kliatt reviews a lot of YA novels, and when we pick up a new book to read and a narrative voice is immediately compelling, it’s a fantastic treat. . . . Daisy is an unforgettable heroine.

The Sunday Telegraph, UK

Readers won't just read this book, they will let it possess them.

The Guardian, UK

There are some pretty good children's novels out there, but it is only occasionally that one comes along with a voice so stridently pure and direct and funny that you simply can't question it¯you tumble willingly into its thrall.

Time Out

[T]he best children's novel for adults since The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

The Observer, UK

Rarely does a writer come up with a first novel so assured, so powerful and engaging that you can be pretty sure that you will want to read everything this author is capable of writing.

Author Blurb Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
That rare, rare thing, a first novel with a sustained, magical and utterly faultless voice. After five pages I knew that she could persuade me to believe almost anything.

Reader Reviews
VampireSlayerLady

Well...
I have very mixed feelings about this book. I bought it two years ago in English (that´s not my first language),but I never read it. Then I totally forgot about it and a few weeks ago I found it in one corner of my bookshelf. I read the first page ...   Read More

Sanne

Mwah
I read the book How I live now for school. I'm from the Netherlands and it's really hard for me to understand the story line. Also there are some questions about in which war the story is about. I think it's in a unnamed war against an unnamed enemy....   Read More

gaelin

incest cousin loving
Bad writing style. Really unrealistic. Bad storyline. Way overrated.

Natalia

My impressions
Really, I am not an admirer of contemporary authors. I prefer classic. Having taken this book at the library only for a pleasant look, I was greatly surprised to find out that it was so good! The sense of humour of Mrs.Rosoff is excellent, the plot ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked How I Live Now, try these:

  • After the Snow jacket

    After the Snow

    by S. D. Crockett

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    After the extremely hard winter of 2009, S. D. Crockett asked herself, "What if winter never ended?" and from that thought, her debut novel, After the Snow, was born.

  • Before I Die jacket

    Before I Die

    by Jenny Downham

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    The story of Tessa, a young teenage girl who has only months to live ... a brilliantly crafted novel, heartbreaking yet life-affirming.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...
  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  19The Arsonist:
    Sue Miller
  2.  167The City:
    Dean Koontz

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.