Fifteen-year-old Daisy goes to live with her aunt Penn and cousins in England when her stepmother gets pregnant. At first upset by her exile, Daisy quickly adjusts to life with her cousins and finds herself in the bosom of a family. At that moment, however, England finds itself in a severe war and the children are left without any parental supervision as the war comes right to their doorstep.
This is an incredibly compelling book. Daisy is a fifteen-year-old with serious issues. She makes light of her anorexia, which is severe, and she proceeds to fall in love with her first cousin in a matter of days. Yet I found her voice incredibly compelling, very much like a teenager would talk. I may be the only one who wasn’t annoyed by the run-on sentences. I just loved the way it changed over the course of the book as she matured and had to deal with harder and harder situations. I felt bad for her at the beginning but she really strengthened and even though her situation didn’t really improve, I started to believe she could handle it. Some of the realizations and changes she makes towards the end were brilliantly done.
I also thought the whole book was a stunning look at the effect a real-life war would have on a first world country at this point in time. The enemy takes over England and everything changes. I actually thought some of the sections towards the end, when two of the characters are particularly desperate, were some of the best in the book. They were so realistically drawn, even though there is a slight hint of fantasy throughout the book. It’s hard to tell whether it’s actually meant or just children’s imaginings but it fit well.
I suppose if I were to have any problem with this book, it might be the fact that Daisy almost instantly falls in love with her first cousin. But she’d never met him before, so it’s difficult to blame her even if it is a bit unnatural. Perhaps it’s just uncomfortable because the author writes their love story so well in the first place!
This was a perfect Read-a-Thon book but I’d recommend How I Live Now to anyone, especially those who like YA dystopias.