How I Live Now

How I Live Now

3.9 124
by Meg Rosoff

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“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 unnamedSee more details below

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“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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In our Best Books citation, PW said, "This riveting first novel paints a frighteningly realistic picture of a world war breaking out in the 21st century." Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
What would a Third World War be like? What would you do? These are questions explored in this modern-day story, told in first-person by 15-year-old Daisy. A New Yorker all her life, Daisy is sent to live in England by her father and pregnant stepmother. There, she grows to adore her deceased mother's sister, Aunt Penn, and her four cousins—Osbert, 16; Isaac and Edmond, 14-year-old twins; and Piper, 9. While Aunt Penn is out of the country on a peace mission, England is invaded. Initially, the children continue on with their lives. The only big change is the sexual relationship that develops between Edmond and Daisy. Then, soldiers take over the farm and split up the children—sending the girls one way and the boys the other. Daisy is determined to keep Piper alive and, during this struggle, we see Daisy change from a self-centered teen to a survivor. The book ends with a thought-provoking, but hopeful, epilogue that takes place six years later. Basically, the book provides a realistic picture of what life would be like if a world war broke out today, and it provides a lot of material for class discussion. The relationship between Edmond and Daisy is not explicit, and it is described in an emotional rather than physical way. The book also deals with Daisy's eating disorder. 2004, Wendy Lamb Books/Random House Children's Books, Ages 12 up.
—Lynn O'Connell
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Daisy, 15, a troubled New York City teen with a distant father, a wicked (and pregnant) stepmother, and an eating disorder, is sent to England to stay on a rambling farm with her deceased mother's sister's family. It is made up of Aunt Penn "who always has Important Work To Do Related to the Peace Process" and her brood of children: Osbert, 16; 14-year-old twins Isaac and Edmond; and 9-year-old Piper. As the kids spend more and more time together, Daisy warms to them, beginning to tune in to a seemingly psychic bond that the siblings share. When Aunt Penn travels to Oslo, Daisy begins a sexual relationship with Edmond. At the same time, hostile forces invade England. Originally enjoying the freedom of a world that seems to have forgotten them, the cousins are inevitably separated, leaving Piper and Daisy to struggle across the countryside and rejoin the others. Daisy's voice is uneven, being at times teenage vapid, while elsewhere sporting a vocabulary rich with 50-cent words, phrases, and references. In addition, Rosoff barely scratches the surface of the material at hand. At times, this is both intentional and effective (the enemy is never named) but for the most part the dearth of explanation creates insurmountable questions around the basic mechanisms of the plot. There is no explanation of how a small force could take out all communications (including cell phones) and proceed to overrun and to control an entire country. Perhaps even stranger, the ramifications of psychic abilities and underage sexual relationships between first cousins is never addressed.-Douglas P. Davey, Halton Hills Public Libraries, Ontario, Canada Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Manhattanite Daisy, 15, moves to London to stay with an aunt and cousins she's never met. Without preamble or fanfare, an unidentified enemy attacks and war ensues. Her aunt is abroad on a peace mission, meaning that Daisy and her three cousins, with whom she forges a remarkable relationship, must survive almost entirely on their own. 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. The story of Daisy and her three exceptional cousins, one of whom becomes her first lover, offers a keen perspective on human courage and resilience. An epilogue, set six years after the conclusion, while war still lingers, ends Daisy's story on a bittersweet, hopeful note. (Fiction. 12+)
From the Publisher
"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." - People Magazine

"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." - Publishers Weekly, Starred

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

“Readers will remain absorbed to the very end by this unforgettable and original story.”—The Bulletin, Starred

“A winning combination of acerbic commentary, innocence, and sober vision. . . . Hilarious, lyrical, and compassionate.”—The Horn Book, Starred

“A fantastic treat . . . Daisy is an unforgettable heroine.”—Kliatt, Starred

“Powerful and engaging . . . a likely future classic.”—The Observer (U.K.)

“A crunchily perfect knock-out of a debut novel.”—The Guardian (U.K.)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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Random House
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632 KB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


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.


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 looked like the type who would wear a big necklace and flat shoes, and maybe some kind of narrow dress in black or gray. But I’m just guessing since the pictures only showed her face.

Anyway, I’m looking and looking and everyone’s leaving and there’s no signal on my phone and I’m thinking Oh great, I’m going to be abandoned at the airport so that’s two countries they don’t want me in, when I notice everyone’s gone except this kid who comes up to me and says You must be Daisy. And when I look relieved he does too and says I’m Edmond.

Hello Edmond, I said, nice to meet you, and I look at him hard to try to get a feel for what my new life with my cousins might be like.

Now let me tell you what he looks like before I forget because it’s not exactly what you’d expect from your average fourteen-year-old what with the CIGARETTE and hair that looked like he cut it himself with a hatchet in the dead of night, but aside from that he’s exactly like some kind of mutt, you know the ones you see at the dog shelter who are kind of hopeful and sweet and put their nose straight into your hand when they meet you with a certain kind of dignity and you know from that second that you’re going to take him home? Well that’s him.

Only he took me home.

I’ll take your bag, he said, and even though he’s about half a mile shorter than me and has arms about as thick as a dog leg, he grabs my bag, and I grab it back and say Where’s your mom, is she in the car?

And he smiles and takes a drag on his cigarette, which even though I know smoking kills and all that, I think is a little bit cool, but maybe all the kids in England smoke cigarettes? I don’t say anything in case it’s a well-known fact that the smoking age in England is something like twelve and by making a big thing about it I’ll end up looking like an idiot when I’ve barely been here five minutes. Anyway, he says Mum couldn’t come to the airport cause she’s working and it’s not worth anyone’s life to interrupt her while she’s working, and everyone else seemed to be somewhere else, so I drove here myself.

I looked at him funny then.

You drove here yourself? You DROVE HERE yourself? Yeah well and I’M the Duchess of Panama’s Private Secretary.

And then he gave a little shrug and a little dog-shelter-dog kind of tilt of his head and he pointed at a falling-apart black jeep and he opened the door by reaching in through the window which was open, and pulling the handle up and yanking. He threw my bag in the back, though more like pushed it in, because it was pretty heavy, and then said Get in Cousin Daisy, and there was nothing else I could think of to do so I got in.

I’m still trying to get my head around all this when instead of following the signs that say Exit he turns the car up onto this grass and then drives across to a sign that says Do Not Enter and of course he Enters and then he jogs left across a ditch and suddenly we’re out on the highway.

Can you believe they charge £13.50 just to park there for an hour? he says to me.

Well to be fair, there is no way I’m believing any of this, being driven along on the wrong side of the road by this skinny kid dragging on a cigarette and let’s face it who wouldn’t be thinking what a weird place England is.

And then he looked at me again in his funny doggy way, and he said You’ll get used to it. Which was strange too, because I hadn’t said anything out loud.

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