How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Meg Rosoff’s breakout novel How I Live Now pulled me in right from the text inside the front flap: “It would be much easier to tell this story if it were all about a chaste and perfect love between Two Children Against the World at an Extreme Time in History but let’s face it that would be a load of crap”. These sharp words were spoken in the distinct voice of Daisy, a rather self-absorbed 15-year-old girl suffering from anorexia who is sent away from her home in New York to live with her cousins in England.
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Daisy’s cousins are almost mystical; Piper, the youngest, seems to possess wisdom and compassion beyond her years, while Isaac talks to animals. Edmond immediately captures Daisy’s heart and the two quickly fall in not-very-chaste love. But as Daisy explained, How I Live Now is not wholly a love story. She and her cousins are thrust out of their perfect world as England is attacked, invaded, and occupied by unnamed armed forces. Bombs are dropped across the country; the world is in thrown into panic. The bond between Daisy and her cousins is put to the ultimate test when an English squadron decides to use their house as planning headquarters, and the family is forced to separate – girls to one stranger’s home and boys to another.
Follow Daisy’s footsteps through her tireless efforts to see Piper and herself reunited with their beloved family amidst the chaos and raging war around them. Her first-person narration is unique and edgy, written in a way that makes you never want to stop reading. Her selfish attitude slowly changes throughout the story as she learns to care about others more deeply than herself. The war violence that she witnesses is terrible and gut-wrenching; you’ll find yourself becoming genuinely concerned for Daisy and her intriguing cousins, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed by the ending.
How I Live Now has received astounding feedback for a first novel. It won several awards, including the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, as proclaimed by the gold seal on its cover. Reviews poured in with praise for the book; the Guardian calls it “a powerful novel: timeless and luminous”, and Kirkus Reviews commends it as “a very relatable contemporary story . . . filled with humor, love, pathos, and courage”. The verdict is in: teen or adult, How I Live Now will keep you mesmerized until the very end.
I recommend this novel to just about everyone. Although written for a teen audience, many adults have recognized it to be a tale well worth reading. However, if you have a hard time with gore or incestuous romance, you might just want to pass on this one.
Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (Book Series) by Louise Rennison
The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson book series has a huge following in its native England, but I’ve noticed that not many Americans have heard of it. Most don’t even know what ‘jammy dodgers’ are or what ‘duffing up’ means. If you want to learn some quirky British terms like these and enjoy some entertainment while you’re at it, this hilarious, girlie, unique series by Louise Rennison is perfect for you.
Confessions of Georgia Nicolson is written as the diary of Georgia, a normal English teenage girl. She goes to an abysmal all-girls school with uniforms, straight-laced teachers, and a headmistress with multiple chins. Her primary interests are friends, clothes, makeup, parties, and of course, boys. She dates all kinds of boys throughout the series: from the dark and brooding Robbie the “Sex God” to the odd-but-hilarious Dave the “Laugh” to the gorgeous foreigner Masimo the “Italian Stallion”.
As you can tell from the nicknames she creates for her love interests, Georgia has a weird side too. She finds something silly in almost every situation, even romantic ones, and has an amusing way of viewing the world. She also has a Scottish Wildcat mix named Angus who eats leashes and scares dogs, a mum and dad who are always nosing into her business, a best friend who collects stuffed owls, and a little sister who is just so strange that I can’t even put it into words. Each book is filled with chaotic drama and lovable (if sometimes a bit daft) characters, and when it all comes together, hilarity ensues.
You don’t need to look any further than the back cover of any book in the series to see the feedback; Seventeen proclaims it to be “Hysterically funny”, and Chicago Tribune describes it as “laugh-till-the-soda-comes-out-your-nose humor”. I couldn’t agree more. Rennison’s witty writing style makes for a refreshing read, and Georgia’s antics had me laughing out loud as I read from the first book Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging to the last, Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me? From playing pranks on teachers to holidays in Scotland and America, you’ll be constantly entertained. Use caution when reading Confessions of Georgia Nicolson in public or when eating/drinking; you probably won’t be able to hold back the laughs.
I recommend this series to anyone looking for a laugh. Teens will probably get the most entertainment out of all the sheer silliness, but adults can certainly enjoy it as well! Don’t worry about not understanding the British slang; Rennison includes a glossary in the back of each book just for Americans and other non-Brits.