How I Live Now

By Meg Rosoff

ISBN: 978-0553376050

Genre: Speculative Fiction, Romance, Survival

Reading Level: 8th grade

Interest Level: 8th-12th grade +

Awards: Orange Prize Nominee for New Writers (2005), Michael L. Printz Award (2005), Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis Nominee for Jugendbuch (2006), Branford Boase Award (2005), Boston Author’s Club Young Reader Award (2005), North East Teenage Book Award Nominee (2005), and Bronzener Lufti (2006)

Teaser: It’s World War III. Who would you want to spend your last days with?

Summary: Elizabeth is a fifteen-year-old American girl who is shipped off to a small farming town in the United Kingdom to stay with her cousins. Her dad does not care about where she goes, all he cares about is his new fiance. Her mom died when she was little and her aunt is letting Elizabeth stay in her mom’s old room. Tensions begin to rise in world politics. Everyone fears that World War III is about to happen. Elizabeth’s aunt is with the United Kingdom’s government and she leaves Elizabeth with her cousins: Edmund, Isaac, and Piper. Elizabeth and her cousins have a perfect summer together at their secluded farm. Elizabeth and Edmund fall in love and have sex with each other. When WWIII erupts, the cousins are split apart and Elizabeth is determined to get her makeshift family back together. They are all that she has.

Information about the Author: According to her bio on Amazon, “Meg Rosoff was born in Boston, educated at Harvard and St Martin’s College of Art, and worked in New York City for ten years before moving to London permanently in 1989. She worked in publishing, politics, PR and advertising until 2004, when she wrote her first novel, How I Live Now, which won the Guardian Children’s fiction prize (UK), Michael L Printz prize (US), the Die Zeit children’s book of the year (Germany) and was shortlisted for the Orange first novel award. Her second novel, Just in Case, won the 2007 Carnegie Medal. Meg’s latest book is The Bride’s Farewell. She lives in London with her husband, daughter and two very hairy dogs.”

Critical Evaluation: I thought that the book was very dark and depressing, but it had a hopeful ending that might surprise readers. While Elizabeth found love which was something she was lacking before she went to the UK, the story never really developed her feelings about herself. She struggled with the way she looked and how she acted. She was super concerned about everything she did and then all the sudden she just stopped being that way. People also turn down this book because Elizabeth falls in love with her cousin, but I actually think it’s a beautiful love story even if it’s not necessarily accepted by society.

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Booktalk Ideas: Do you think that a Third World War is plausible?

Challenge Issues: Sexuality, Violence, Death

Challenge Resources: Rationale for choosing this book (see “Why Did I Pick This”), Engage students and parents in discussions about intellectual freedom, ALA Library Bill of Rights,Challenge Resources from the American Library Association

Why Did I Pick This: I picked this book because this book is a very heavy, dark book. I mentioned before that it has a somewhat hopeful ending and I think that having that kind of ending makes sense for this type of novel. There was war and no one won because everyone lost someone or lost a part of themselves. It’s good to have a realistic, speculative fiction book that also has some love tied up into it.

Rosoff, Meg. (2006). How I Live Now. New York: Wendy Lamb Books.

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