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On Sale: November 30, 2004
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On Sale: February 08, 2005
ISBN: 978-0-307-20724-1
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE & AWARDS PRAISE & AWARDS
READER'S GUIDE READER'S GUIDE
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

This award winning novel will soon be released as a movie starring Saoirse Ronan as Daisy.

Fifteen-year-old New Yorker Daisy is sent to live in the English countryside with cousins she’s never even met. When England is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy, the cousins find themselves on their own. Power fails, system fail. As they grow more isolated, the farm becomes a kind of Eden, with no rules. Until the war arrives in their midst.
          Daisy’s is a war story, a survival story, a love story—all told in the voice of a subversive and witty teenager. This book crackles with anxiety and with lust. It’s a stunning and unforgettable first novel that captures the essence of the age of terrorism: how we live now.

Excerpt

1

My name is Elizabeth but no one’s ever called me that. My father took one look at me when I was born and must have thought I had the face of someone dignified and sad like an old-fashioned queen or a dead person, but what I turned out like is plain, not much there to notice. Even my life so far has been plain. More Daisy than Elizabeth from the word go.

But the summer I went to England to stay with my cousins everything changed. Part of that was because of the war, which supposedly changed lots of things, but I can’t remember much about life before the war anyway so it doesn’t count in my book, which this is.

Mostly everything changed because of Edmond.

And so here’s what happened.


2

I’m coming off this plane, and I’ll tell you why that is later, and landing at London airport and I’m looking around for a middle-aged kind of woman who I’ve seen in pictures who’s my Aunt Penn. The photographs are out of date, but she looked like the type who would wear a big necklace and flat shoes, and maybe some kind of narrow dress in black or gray. But I’m just guessing since the pictures only showed her face.

Anyway, I’m looking and looking and everyone’s leaving and there’s no signal on my phone and I’m thinking Oh great, I’m going to be abandoned at the airport so that’s two countries they don’t want me in, when I notice everyone’s gone except this kid who comes up to me and says You must be Daisy. And when I look relieved he does too and says I’m Edmond.

Hello Edmond, I said, nice to meet you, and I look at him hard to try to get a feel for what my new life with my cousins might be like.

Now let me tell you what he looks like before I forget because it’s not exactly what you’d expect from your average fourteen-year-old what with the CIGARETTE and hair that looked like he cut it himself with a hatchet in the dead of night, but aside from that he’s exactly like some kind of mutt, you know the ones you see at the dog shelter who are kind of hopeful and sweet and put their nose straight into your hand when they meet you with a certain kind of dignity and you know from that second that you’re going to take him home? Well that’s him.

Only he took me home.

I’ll take your bag, he said, and even though he’s about half a mile shorter than me and has arms about as thick as a dog leg, he grabs my bag, and I grab it back and say Where’s your mom, is she in the car?

And he smiles and takes a drag on his cigarette, which even though I know smoking kills and all that, I think is a little bit cool, but maybe all the kids in England smoke cigarettes? I don’t say anything in case it’s a well-known fact that the smoking age in England is something like twelve and by making a big thing about it I’ll end up looking like an idiot when I’ve barely been here five minutes. Anyway, he says Mum couldn’t come to the airport cause she’s working and it’s not worth anyone’s life to interrupt her while she’s working, and everyone else seemed to be somewhere else, so I drove here myself.

I looked at him funny then.

You drove here yourself? You DROVE HERE yourself? Yeah well and I’M the Duchess of Panama’s Private Secretary.

And then he gave a little shrug and a little dog-shelter-dog kind of tilt of his head and he pointed at a falling-apart black jeep and he opened the door by reaching in through the window which was open, and pulling the handle up and yanking. He threw my bag in the back, though more like pushed it in, because it was pretty heavy, and then said Get in Cousin Daisy, and there was nothing else I could think of to do so I got in.

I’m still trying to get my head around all this when instead of following the signs that say Exit he turns the car up onto this grass and then drives across to a sign that says Do Not Enter and of course he Enters and then he jogs left across a ditch and suddenly we’re out on the highway.

Can you believe they charge £13.50 just to park there for an hour? he says to me.

Well to be fair, there is no way I’m believing any of this, being driven along on the wrong side of the road by this skinny kid dragging on a cigarette and let’s face it who wouldn’t be thinking what a weird place England is.

And then he looked at me again in his funny doggy way, and he said You’ll get used to it. Which was strange too, because I hadn’t said anything out loud.
Meg Rosoff

About Meg Rosoff

Meg Rosoff - How I Live Now

Photo © Pete Millson

"Children are endowed with rare and subtle talents. . . . [and] our faults are sometimes far more useful in life than our so-called ‘good’ qualities."--Meg Rosoff


Meg Rosoff was born in Boston and lives in London. She is the author of How I Live Now and Just In Case

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My biography will prove incredibly inspiring to anyone who wasn’t born in Beijing or Kathmandu, wasn’t sent to school in Switzerland or Peru, didn’t marry a diplomat at 19, and doesn’t speak 9 languages.

I was born in Boston, in 1956, second of four sisters, grew up in the Boston suburbs, went to ordinary suburban schools for most of my youth, and was rejected from Princeton in 1974 so went to Harvard instead.

I didn’t like Harvard much, but Princeton would have been worse, though I didn’t know that then.

After three years of thinking ‘I’ve got to get out of here’, I applied to art school in London, was accepted for a year studying sculpture, packed a bag and got on a plane. I stayed in a bed and breakfast in Knightsbridge until I found a room in a flat in Camden Town, with an architect who later became my boyfriend. Art school was a disaster (I was obviously a writer not a sculptor, but I didn’t know that then, either) but the rest of the year was a revelation. There was an unbelievable amount of fun to be had in London in 1977-78. I’m still reeling.

Eventually I returned to the US to finish my degree, moved to New York City, spent ten short years working in publishing and advertising, and then one day quit my job, told all my friends I was going back to London for three months, and have been here ever since.

My husband is an English painter and my daughter is a mongrel with her heart in the American suburbs and the accent of a North London fishmonger. After a fifteen-year stint in advertising (which I recommend to no one) my youngest sister died of breast cancer. And I thought if I was going to write a book, I’d better do it soon because life is short.

So I did.

A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR ON HOW I LIVE NOW

Dear Readers:

There’s a biography of me somewhere that says my ideal job would be head gardener of Regents Park in London. This is not entirely true.

My true ideal job would be Archbishop of Canterbury, despite the fact that I’m Jewish, an atheist, female, and American. My reasoning goes that, given a certain amount of power (and in the case of the church, a lot of land and a dwindling congregation) you could re-brand the institution and influence an awful lot of people for the better. (As Tom Lehrer once memorably said, “there are people who do not love their fellow man, and I hate people like that.”)

My husband thinks I’d make a lousy Archbishop of Canterbury, given my absence of patience, tact and basic spirituality, and he’s probably right. So I considered the next best way to obtain a captive audience, and wrote a book.

At the very beginning, I had the idea for an American heroine and an English family of eccentrics (there were originally six children, but the family became unmanageable), and thought about what would happen if their meeting took place at the start of a war set in the very near future. I printed out the lyrics to Talking Heads’ "Life During Wartime" from the computer and it helped me imagine the world I wanted to create. After one false start, I could barely keep up with the narrative in my head, and had a first draught ready in about three months — and this while I was working full time! I would come home from work and put my daughter to bed, fall asleep with her at 8, wake up around 10 and work till midnight or 1 am. I didn’t realize it at the time, but have since heard people talk about the once in a lifetime experience of writing a book that feels like taking dictation. Since How I Live Now, I’ve moved on to two other books and have found it much more of a long haul.

I wrote How I Live Now after my youngest sister died of cancer, and it’s a terrible sadness to me that she’s not around to read it. The book is about loss, and the urgent need for love. It’s about the fact that violence leads to more violence, and war to more war. That we’re responsible for the people we care about. That deep human connections can repair a lot of emotional damage. That children are endowed with rare and subtle talents. That our faults are sometimes far more useful in life than our so-called ‘good’ qualities.

And that, as my sister said once, just because life is hard, doesn’t mean it can’t be good.

Did I miss anything?

Oh yeah: Advertising. I worked in advertising for fifteen years and walked out the door the day my book advance came through. Now that was a great day.

That’s about it, except I hope you like the book. It would help me a lot if you did. Although I learned numerous invaluable lessons from fifteen years writing ads, writing books sure beats writing about soap powder.

xxxMeg


PRAISE

HOW I LIVE NOW
“Rosoff’s narrative poise makes this a book for all ages. . . . A daring, wise and sensitive look at the complexities of being young in a world teetering on chaos, Rosoff’s poignant exploration of perseverance in the face of the unknown is a timely lesson for us all.”--People
Praise | Awards

Praise

"A daring, wise, and sensitive look at the complexities of being young in a world teetering on chaos, Rosoff's poignant exploration of perseverance in the face of the unknown is a timely lesson for us all." - People Magazine

"This riveting first novel paints a frighteningly realistic picture of a world war breaking out in the 21st century . . . Readers will emerge from the rubble much shaken, a little wiser, and with perhaps a greater sense of humanity." - Publishers Weekly, Starred

“That rare, rare thing, a first novel with a sustained, magical and utterly faultless voice. After five pages, I knew she could persuade me to believe anything.” —Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

“Readers will remain absorbed to the very end by this unforgettable and original story.”—The Bulletin, Starred

“A winning combination of acerbic commentary, innocence, and sober vision. . . . Hilarious, lyrical, and compassionate.”—The Horn Book, Starred

“A fantastic treat . . . Daisy is an unforgettable heroine.”—Kliatt, Starred

“Powerful and engaging . . . a likely future classic.”—The Observer (U.K.)

“A crunchily perfect knock-out of a debut novel.”—The Guardian (U.K.)

Awards

WINNER Michael L. Printz Award Winner
WINNER Branford Boase Award
WINNER 2005 ALA Best Books for Young Adults
WINNER 2005 Michael L. Printz Award Winner
NOMINEE 2005 Orange Prize for New Writers
WINNER 2005 Printz Awards
Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide



NOTE TO TEACHERS

War and terrorism are real. They’re no longer
subjects limited to history books. Children and
young adults need only to listen to the nightly
news to realize the horrors of war. Whether the
news takes them to the Middle East, to New York,
to the subway systems of London and Madrid, or
to the stories of wounded or fallen soldiers, the
young are forced to deal with the threats and
effects of war in a different way than children of
the past. Mass media and the Web have changed
their lives forever. It is now impossible to protect
them from the fears connected with terrorism and
global conflict. Children were watching when the
Twin Towers went down. They are witnessing the
suicide bombers in and around Baghdad. They are
seeing the frightened citizens of war-torn regions
attempt to flea their burning villages. They are
noticing that war is dirty. It ruins lives, and it
leaves emotional scars that last a lifetime.
The books in this readers guide deal with war and
the threat of war, and the toll it takes on the young
adult main characters. Some are set in the present
and others in the near future. They all deal with
loss, fear, survival, courage, and hope. We hope
that these titles and this guide help you lead
important discussions in your classrooms.

ABOUT THIS BOOK

Fifteen-year-old Daisy leaves New York City to stay with her Aunt Penn’s family on
a farm in England. Soon after Daisy arrives, Aunt Penn goes on a business trip and
is stranded abroad when England is invaded by terrorists. The cousins must fend
for themselves. Daisy and her cousin Edmond fall in love, but they’re separated
when the military takes over the farm. Daisy and nine-year-old Piper are sent to
another town, and the boys elsewhere. The girls find themselves in a terrifying
world, but their desire to be reunited with their family gives them the courage they
need to survive the devastation of the war.

TEACHING IDEAS

Most of the novel focuses on Daisy’s life in England, how she is affected by
war, and her eventual return to a life she chooses for herself. But, Daisy
does tell her readers that she was quite unhappy living with her father and
stepmother. She even alludes to suffering from an eating disorder. Write a
brief paper titled “How I Lived Then.” Make the point that how Daisy lived
then shapes how she lives now.

AWARDS

A Michael L. Printz Award Winner
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
A Publishers Weekly Best Book
A Publishers Weekly Flying Start Author
A Booklist Editors’ Choice
A Kirkus Reviews Editor’s Choice


ABOUT THIS GUIDE

Prepared by Pat Scales, Director of Library Services, South Carolina Governor’s School for Arts and Humanities, Greenville, SC.

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