Before the holiday crush of travel and gift giving, and possibly as a respite from the preceding crush of academic obligations and end-of-term gatherings, I read Meg Rosoff’s 2004 Printz award-winning How I Live Now.
Rosoff’s tale of a small group of teens in the English countryside, separated from the head of household by a fluke chance of timing as a hazily-described world war breaks out, is a superb story. Written as a young adult piece, Rosoff’s story focuses on the relationships between the kids, and the human ability to survive in the midst of a stranger-than-fiction situation.
Daisy is a 15 year-old New Yorker who flees her awful relationship with her stepmother to visit her quirky English cousins; when international borders suddenly close, she’s stuck. The book is written in a diary style from Daisy’s point of view, and records her observations about the new world she’s stuck in, and how everything she expects adults to do is turned on its head, while she and her cousins are left to fend completely for themselves.
Daisy is not afraid to describe the world, ridiculous as it is, exactly as she sees it. Each of her quirky cousins are forced to invent their own survival strategies as the group is torn apart, their home occupied, and the uncertainty of war makes the world new again.