How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Thirteen members were welcomed to this month’s meeting with apologies received from the other six members unable to attend. Brenda opened the discussion of this book by asking members what they thought of it.  Everyone agreed it was an easy read albeit slightly strange and a little odd, some finding it initially very confusing. It was felt that it was a bit of a dark read especially with regards to the very dramatic descriptive war scenes which came on quite suddenly and without notice or explanation at all, apart from stating that “rebels” were instigating the fighting and wars all over the world – but who were the rebels?  One member found it really strange how “everything just stopped” in the setting of this modern age, particularly with all communication gone, social structure integrated, making it more like the Middle Ages.  Another member said that she was able to understand this in a better way on reading it twice – everything became a lot clearer and in many ways it was a frightening scenario that a war, which had no build-up, could just start like that and last nine months. This proved quite thought-provoking for many. A discussion then took place on a comparison with the Second World War and how everyone co-existed and had a reasonable lifestyle just like in the modern day age of the book and then “wham” suddenly everything changed, but amazingly carried on as normal with everyone going about their business in their usual way as though it was really not happening at all.

A few members found it difficult to understand Aunt Penn’s behaviour with her leaving 5 teenage children to “fend for themselves” alone whilst she went to Oslo –  the need for this visit was unclear and was left for the reader to possibly work out but never really explained.  Although the visit was supposedly only for a few days initially, it still baffled some members, with one saying at the start of the book she felt it was a bit like reading a “Famous Five” adventure (perhaps the edition “Famous Five Go Parenting” story would fit the bill here!!). Although there was no Timmy the dog, their substitute could have been farm dog Jet of course.  It was mentioned that back in the time when World War 2 took place, children had more freedom so although this was possibly more familiar then, it still felt peculiar within the story but some members saying it was far fetched and quite unbelievable for them with another saying at first she thought it might have been a dream on Daisy’s plane journey over from America.

A few members said they didn’t really understand the need the use of CAPITAL letters frequently appearing in sentences in the text but one member did point out that as we imagined this book was written for and geared to teenagers, this would have been quite appropriate as teenagers do emphasise / dramatise statements, similar to perhaps the use of colloquial marks.  Members then discussed the main character Elizabeth “Daisy” who at the beginning of the book was portrayed as quite immature, but by the end had matured nicely – causing one or two members to say they felt because of this it was very skillfully written.  The characters and the family were generally well liked too.  It was agreed that this was a book of two levels – producing a different perspective from adults to that of teenagers reading it. For the younger reader it empahsised and tackled several  fairly ”gritty” issues such as the underage sex and why Daisy did not get pregnant of course possibly due to her anorexia, and sex between cousins.

So in conclusion……… A book which was thought to have been written for the teenage market. It was an easy read, quite dark, a little frightening, and to some members coming through as a little far-fetched.  A book which produced completely different views and understanding of the content depending on whether you read it from an adult or teenage perspective.  In essence, an enduring love story which continued meandering through “thick and thin” as “Love Conquers All”. Surprisingly perhaps a book not disliked by everyone at all and to a certain extent actually enjoyed by quite a few members in the end.

What would we do with this book ?   –  Recommend to a friend with a short explanation.