How I live now (Film Tie In) by Meg Rosoff
Puffin, 2013. ISBN: 9780141346564.
(Age: 14+) Meg Rosoff's debut novel, first published in 2004 was the winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and received great acclaim from all quarters. After finally reading this powerful novel, re-issued to coincide with the film released in October this year, I can wholeheartedly concur. From the very first few pages I was hooked into Daisy's story and indeed read the entire book in a single morning and afternoon commute.
Daisy is a fifteen year old New Yorker with an indifferent father who is besotted by his pregnant second wife, also known as Davina the Diabolical. Daisy's mother died giving birth to her and throughout the book there is an overwhelming sense of the vacuum this has caused in Daisy's psyche. To spite her father, Daisy makes a choice to go and live with her English cousins and aunt, the sister of her late mother, and it is as she initially meets with this very charming but definitely different family, that we begin to read between the lines and learn that Daisy has brought some serious emotional baggage along with her including anorexia and self-harming.
Aunt Penn although briefly appearing, represents Daisy's absent mother figure and her cousins Osbert, twins Edmund and Isaac and Piper quickly become a vital part of Daisy's sense of belonging. In particular, she is drawn immediately to 14 year old Edmund and upon realising the attraction is reciprocal a very deep and passionate physical relationship begins between the two.
The backdrop of a looming war with an unspecified enemy moves quickly to the forefront of the plot and when Aunt Penn is stranded in Oslo on a peace mission, and the invasion escalates the children are left to fend for themselves. The ensuing trauma endured by all of them, including painful separations, survival under the most adverse of conditions, witnessing horrific brutalities and more change their lives forever.
With echoes of the Holocaust resonating throughout the scenes of war, the family torn apart are finally reunited but with inescapable permanent consequences.
A fabulous read for mature readers from Lower Secondary up