About the Book

Title: How I Live Now
Published: 2004

BFF Charm: Maybe?
Swoonworthy Scale: Negative (Infinity + 1)
Talky Talk: Get Outta My Head
Bonus Factors: English Countryside, Mental Powers
Anti-Bonus Factor: Incest
Relationship Status: Secret Boyfriend

The Deal:

15-year-old Daisy has just arrived to the beautiful (but middle of nowhere) English countryside to live with family that she’s never met. She has been more or less driven from her home in New York City by her negligent dad and step-whore and arrives in England to meet her four cousins and mother’s sister for the first time. Soon her aunt is leaving the country to deal with an ambiguous war that has been brewing. Once war breaks out, Daisy and her cousins are now on their own – no parents, no adults. It’s basically paradise for Daisy who soon begins a relationship (yes, that kind of relationship) with her cousin Edmond. But their idyllic setting can’t last forever as the war begins pressing closer to them, disrupting their lives forever.

BFF Charm: Maybe?

BFF charm with a :-| face

Daisy has a lot of positive qualities – she’s witty and clever and has a self-deprecating sense of humor that I enjoy. She also really stepped up her game and impressed me when she took care of her little cousin Piper, making sure she had food, protection and (hardest of all) keeping herself composed for Piper’s sake. She also has a crap home life with practically no parental emotional support so that makes me extremely sympathetic with her. However, her eating disorder and that whole cousin-love thing make it difficult to be inside her head. Also, her initial apathy toward the war and the situation going on around her was extremely infuriating. So for now, I’ll take a sort of wait and see approach and check back in with Daisy when she’s had a chance to grow up a bit ’cause these BFF charms ain’t free!

Swoonworthy Scale: Negative (Infinity + 1)

I’ve already let the incestuous cat out of the bag so I’m guessing you can imagine (but seriously don’t imagine, cause ewwwy) why my swoon scale is so cosmically low. I’m not sure if talking about Daisy and Edmond’s relationship could be considered spoilery but I think it’s important for people to know this going in. People gotta be prepared for this kinda business! Like, the publisher should probably put stickers of the covers of every copy of this book WARNING – COUSIN INCEST. NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART Not suitable for woman who are nursing or may become pregnant. I mean, we aren’t talking about a hand holding or a stolen kiss or two. We’re talking IT. Like when you were a child and it meant something scandalous. That’s what we’re talking about. Luckily, Daisy sticks to thinking about the feelings and emotions involved and doesn’t give us a play by play of the dirty deets (thank goodness for small favors).

Talky Talk: Get Outta My Head

This book takes place from Daisy’s point of view and written as a stream of consciousness. It can be difficult to follow along at first, especially since the sentences are long and run on. But once you get used to that it definitely seems to speed along the book. Rosoff pretty much has 15 year old girl think nailed, as Daisy’s thoughts are both funny and exasperating in a way I totally believe.

Bonus Factor: English Countryside

A bridge and water next to an old building in Bath, England

Why does England always sound like heaven on earth? I personally blame James Herriot for fetishizing rural England for me, but regardless, the damange is done! I cannot get enough of hearing about the beautiful old manor houses or cottages, the green pastures, the rivers. And don’t forget the animals! This book makes sure to mention the many dogs and cats and goats and sheep and chickens. Sigh. So dreamy.

Bonus Factor: Mental Powers

Daisy’s cousins (and possibly Daisy herself) are all some sort of telepaths. Edmond can read other people’s thoughts and Isaac and Piper can more or less communicate with animals. It’s never really explained and I wouldn’t consider this a paranormal book at all. But I would totally dig me some generic powers (probably more so the animal communicating, which would be awesome and totally come in handy. Less the human mind reading, which would be insanely useful, but would probably result in me becoming a hermit and/or Unabomber.)

Anti-Bonus Factor: Incest

Dollanger siblings Chris and Cathy look at each other while Cory and Carrie sleep (Flowers in the Attic)

It bears (rarr) repeating because this aspect of the story will certainly turn off many readers for the book as a whole. Every so often while writing this review I thought well, maybe I’m being too harsh about this and making too big of a deal, who am I to judge, really? And then I think about each of my four male cousins and that really help drive the point home for me that evolution gave us the incest taboo for a v. v. important reason.

Relationship Status: Secret Boyfriend

I like this book, I really do! Maybe that’s hard to tell from some of my ragging but this was an quick, interesting and mostly enjoyable read for me. That said, I don’t think I’ll be introducing this book to many of my friends and family anytime soon. I had a good time with this book, but other people might judge me, question what I see in this book. So sorry if I ignore your calls or texts when I’m around other people. Keeping it secret makes it more special, right?

FTC Full Disclosure: I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). How I Live Now is available now.

Megan is an unabashed fangirl who is often in a state of panic about her inability to watch, read and play all the things.