How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Published April 11th 2006 by Wendy Lamb Books (first published 2004)
More at: Goodreads
"Things Happen and once they start happening you pretty much just to hold on for dear life and see where they drop you when they stop."
It's funny how a war can sneak up on you. At first, it's something that happens to other people, someplace else and it can't possibly have anything to do with you because you're still going about as you always have. Then, as you see more and more of it on the television and you hear more and more about it on the radio and it becomes something to play at, Being-at-War. War is just another game you play and in it, you play at spy, you play at refugee, you play at hiding, until somehow you're playing at survival- only the game isn't fun anymore and you can't make it stop.
There was only rumor of an enemy when Daisy was sent to England to visit her cousins and the rumor came a distant second to the excitement of meeting such unique and colorful new friends and family. And who can think on war when one is thinking about love for the first time, with all its strange and unknown wonders? With her Aunt suddenly called away to assist with the war effort, Daisy and her cousins are left alone in their house in the countryside, to play at grownup in their new war game. When she doesn't return and they are cut off from power, food, and one by one, from each other, it's no longer unsupervised fun and games. The war is real, and they may never see each other again.
This is a very unique and interesting read. A very dark story, but told in the youthful light of innocence reflected in the eyes of, at first, a very immature Daisy, and by the end, someone who has aged countless years. I loved the young Daisy's voice. I loved the random capitals, placing enthusiastic inflection on things that mean so very much to her at a time when a different set of priorities governs what is most important. The change in her voice as she was forced to rather quickly grow up, was interesting, but I rather missed my girl.
We are introduced to several little odd ducks, these cousins that Daisy goes to live with. Each possess some unique ability, nothing blatantly supernatural, but just the hint of something psychic, leaving you to wonder if they really are or if it's just Daisy being in awe of finally having family, and people that care and listen. Having grown up without a mother and been shipped off by her father when his new wife is expecting a baby, Daisy claims to be unfamiliar with the kind of family bond that her cousins share. We, the readers, are given a gift, in the diminutive form of Piper, the youngest of the cousins, and by far the most wonderful. You can't help but love and adore Piper, who even as the baby of the family, takes care of them all, cares for the animals, and keeps them, and later Daisy, going. She's an adorable little bright spark in all the gloom and secretly I was rooting for her to survive even if it meant losing the others.
I didn't love this book, because truthfully, I didn't get why the author made such an abrupt change with the storyline. It was going along JUST FINE, then suddenly we switch from book one to book two and I'm thinking hell, it's only 194 pages where can she possibly want to go with this? So excuse my incomprehensive blank stare but I totally don't understand the change. I even reread that part after the phone rings trying to get to the place that the author seemed to want me to be at and I'm still sitting here hmmmming over it. I get what "happened" or what was implied to have happened but for the life of me I can't get why. We have build up, build up, build up and then splat. Even with that, I can't not recommend it because,my dislike of how the time change was handled aside, it's still a very good book.
I sometimes wished someone would just fill me in on the simple boring things like did she have big feet or wear makeup and what was her favorite song and did she like dogs or have a nice voice and what books did she read etc. I made up my mind to ask Aunt Penn some of these questions when she came back from Oslo but I guess what you really want to know are the things you can't ask like Did she have eyes like yours and When you pushed my hair back was that what it feels like to have your mother do it and Did her hands look serious and quiet like yours and Did she ever have a chance to look at me with a complicated expression like the one on your face, and by the way Was she scared to die.
Now let's talk about Edmond. And here is where you jump off if you don't want to read any *SPOILERS*.
As I was reading through the responses to this book I came across so many posts of near protest of distaste for it that I was shocked. Edmond is her cousin and they fall in love. It's kind of a nice little love, all youthful and innocent, while they explore a new emotion. It then becomes needy, but in a good way as their need to get back to each other helps keep them going. They share what is either a psychic connection, or the product of Daisy's overactive imagination and are still able to communicate with each other despite their separation. Whether or not it's true doesn't really matter. What does is Daisy's need to believe in it in order to keep going. Yesssss, while they're hold up in the house, unsupervised, it's implied that they are most likely having sex, which seemed to elicit many shocked cries of disgust. And while it's not ideal or all that appealing now, remember that it is only in our recent history that dating a first cousin has become taboo. Marrying a cousin was actually standard practice, back in the day when keeping wealth and property in the family was important. So this concept isn't new or shocking, just different from, ha, how we live now.