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

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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
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.78(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.48(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

How I Live Now

By Meg Rosoff

Random House

Copyright (C) 2004 by Meg Rosoff
All right reserved.

ISBN: 038590908X

Chapter One


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.

From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpted from How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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How I Live Now 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 124 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found How I Live Now while browsing in a local bookstore... At first it didn't really interest me after I read a few pages of it, so i left it on my bookshelf for about 6 months. Until one day I decided to give it a go. The minute I Started reading it I could not stop and I read it in around half a day: now I wish I had taken more time to read it to make the happiness last longer. What grabbed me most was the romance between Daisy and Edmond, one word MAGICAL. But then towards the end it became heartbreaking... Dont be fooled the ending proves very satisfying. I wish meg rossof would make a sequel to this book because I could read this book a million times. You will love everything about this book, so spend your time wisely with a hot chocolate, a comfy chair and most importantly this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
WOW, this book made me cry. IT was FABULOUS and heart-taking, it was extraordinary. It was gruesome but realistic, left realistic images in my head. NOT disturbing, just very graphic, which is good. Cousinly sexual relationship is risky, new, and fresh. Makes it so much more exciting to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely adored this book. It was original and interesting and written in a very rushed, beautiful prose. Everything about it was unique- I think that what everyone else has counted as faults- such as Daisy having a sexual relationship with her cousin and it being to forced and vague- were really just aspects of the book that have to be appreciated. All in all, it was quite a read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'How I Live Now' is a wonderful book for high school students. It is a story about a girl named Daisy that gets shipped off to England by her father and her step-mother. She goes to live with her four cousins and her aunt, who she has never met before. You follow her journey through the change in lifestyles, times of war, being seperated from her family, lack of food, and love. Daisy's love life with her cousin Edmund gets a little strange, but it makes it all that much more interesting. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes books about love, war, or family problems. Personally, I loved this book from beginning to end. It kept me wondering what was going to happen next through the whole book. The author wrote the book in a way that made you feel like you were right there in the story too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book... I don't want to get all fancy and use big words... Anyway what I enjoyed was the use of detail and the humor and just the overall story of kids surviving and love and etc... I mean come on, it was so good i read it in less than a day... i did not read for the whole day straight thank u very much... It's not that long either so just read it for... Just read it...
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book!!! ok so the ending wasnt all that great to me I just wish there was more before the end. But overall this book just captures you in a way even after your done with it...I recommend this book to everyone who loves to be caught up in a story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'How I live Now' proved to be a very entertaining book for me. It confronts issues very head strong, that many authors will not do, and that is what made this book unlike any other. It takes a little time getting used to the fact that the main character, Daisy, is having a relationship with her cousin, Edmond. You must have an open mind to read this book. This book was captivating, I finished it in about a day. It was a work of art, and I applaud Meg Rossof for taking it far. At times the book can become confusing if you don't pay attention to details. The outcome is bittersweet,I still recommend it, because the writing is purley amazing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One word: genius :]
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is my most favorite book ever. I couldn't even put it down. I felt a tear in my eye as the book was ending. It was AMAZING!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is not a normal teen book. Which is why I loved it. It's a deep,captivating,and amazing story. So if your looking for a book unlike any that you've ever read and thats not a sugar coated peice of fluff check it out. :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful book.this book is great for people who like well thought-out, deep books. Some people have a hard time getting past the fact that the cousins have feelings for each other. Which is understandable, but what if they werent cousins? Survival has a striking feature in this book because we all try to find ways to survive in our own lives. Love in a time of war, loss of character, and loss of life are guaranties in this breath taking book!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i luv this book!! full of romance and adventure. it was so sad but yet happy at the end!
Guest More than 1 year ago
OMG I love this book!It was good in the begining,a little dry in the middle,but really good in the end.It was a simple book,but intense in a way
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most heartfelt books I have read in a long time. Everything was beautifully written, and the characters had depth that is hard to come by in most modern novels.The only thing that somewhat bothered me was the Daisy's seeming immaturity and lack of interest in the war. But later on you know that her key concern is to survive the war. Other than that it was one of the most beautifully written I have read in a while.
Guest More than 1 year ago
it is so sad but also so good!! i could not believe i actually picked it up (i usually pick up bad books) i just like it so much..
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel is a well written melting pot of qualities that comprise a beautiful, moving story. Highly reccommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i really liked the book, i just wished that the author would have given more information at the end, but i really enjoyed it i couldnt put it down it was so good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel reminds me more of modern art than of any sort of novel in existence. It leaves one wandering throughout a sort of limbo, attempting to escape from a precarious position, just as the characters are. Once the occupation began, I found myself trying to find some sanity, which was nearly impossible. The novel is disturbing on some deep, profound level, only because all of the barriers are torn down from the main character she's rubbed raw and the deepest most secret emotions of all humans are shown. I will carry this novel with me in my heart for some time because it is so... human. No one wants to hear the things Daisy has to say or feel the things Daisy feels. No one wants to talk about the issues addressed in a novel like this. Though it is for young adults, I recommend this book to adults. It truly is a masterpiece I felt like I was reading art. With all barriers - grammatical or emotional - torn down, there is just... something about this book. The only thing I've ever read remotely like this is The Lovely Bones, only because I found both books so disturbing and human at the same time. It really is inexplicable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
How I Live Now was a good book in my opinion. I admit that it's confusing at the beginning since there are no quotation marks, but what you need to do in that situation is read carefully and actually enjoy it! The overall story had a wonderful message and it kept me reading. The characters are interesting and the plot is gripping. I truly loved this book, and I'm an avid reader! Please give this book a chance! You will surely love it if you do.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought it was a really sweet book and i especially like the inner thought process of the main character, daisy--what the people think is probably most appealing to me in a story. And I wish you could find out more at the end with Edmond! I'm a sap for the romance, and i love at the beginning when they're both so cute with each other...i just can't stand it. Anyway, it was a good book. A little hard to get into at first, but ends up snagging your interest.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was very interesting, but it was enjoyable and I recommend it as an avid reader if you are interested. You feel as if you can realte to Daisy and everything she is going through. A must read!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i don't really like ready books, but i read many reviews on this book, and i just got it, and loving it. i am currently reading 'how i live now', and i am in love with it. this book, is great for those, people who like war books, and somewhat of a romantic book. this book is like a really good one, and i have to say, might be the best book i read eversince, 'how i survied 7th grade', anywho, 'how i live now', it's a great book c[=
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up off my mom's desk one afternoon and finished it within.. 6 hours, I believe it was. It's just an amazing book and I've made all of my friends read it and we've all fallen in love with Edmond. The story is so different, but it stays so real at the same time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Oh my god this book just blew me away. It is both beautiful and sad. Edmond and Daisy's relationship while unorthodox was idyllic and precious, and the comparisons of Piper to an angel are spot on. I cryed at least 3 times. This is the best book ever. recommened for 15up
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have never read anything quite like How I Live Now. It is a very unique and capturing read. It is the story of a misunderstood young woman from Manhattan who gets shipped off to live with her English cousins and aunt. She finds herself caught in the middle of an enemy occupation and embarks on her own, oh so cliche, 'adventure of a lifetime.'