How I Live Now: War through the eyes of a jaded teenager

How I Live Now cover

As I read How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, a popular YA lit book soon to hit the big screen, I was astonished by both its relevance to our modern-day world, and its resonance with me as a reader. Following the thoughts and experiences of Daisy, a fifteen-year-old New Yorker moving in with her cousins in England, from the distant fringes of war into the face of death and a terrifying fight for survival gave me new insight into how people react to war, and kept me turning pages ceaselessly until I reached the last word. The candidness, sarcasm, and sincerity of Daisy’s voice as a narrator captured a prevalent attitude of our time, and gives rich insight into the notion that peoples’ attitudes toward a war are largely dependent on how it affects them directly. In the beginning of the novel, Daisy states bluntly, “No matter how much you put on a sad expression and talked about how awful it was that all those people were killed and what about democracy and the Future of Our Great Nation the fact that none of us kids said out loud was that WE DIDN’T REALLY CARE. Most of the people who got killed were either old like our parents so they’d had good lives already, or people who worked in banks and were pretty boring anyway, or other people we didn’t know.” And while this may seem like a very adolescent thought, let us remember that the United States didn’t get involved in WWII until after Pearl Harbor. You could say that, while concerned, the American government didn’t “REALLY CARE” about the tragedies abroad until those tragedies impinged our own borders. I think Rosoff capitalizes on the voice of an adolescent to express an attitude adults and governments have been guilty of having, but only an adolescent like Daisy would say out loud. That’s what makes this novel so poignant: Daisy’s boldness to point out uncomfortable truths. And then, when Daisy first encounters death and the true violence and terror of the war, she offers this: ” . . . but first he turned to us and said in a voice that sounded broken and full of rage, In case anyone needed reminding This is a War. And the way he said those words made me feel like I was falling.” The difference between this and the previous statement, from earlier in the novel, is staggering. As her entire life continues to be transformed by the war, Daisy explores a number of insights about herself, her life, and our society–each one of them worth hearing and giving more than a passing thought or two. They will challenge you. They will possess you. They may just inspire you.

KB

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