I am in the middle of a massive Young Adult fiction marathon. The selection process of our 2012 school community reads is in full swing and this time I am obsessed with pushing the best possible books to my committee. Not that I wasn’t before. It is just that the winners for the last couple of years was more clear cut.
So. I am trying to read as many books as I can that I think would be good, relevant reads for a grade 7 to 11 readership, that won’t offend the sensibilities of the adults in their life but that will still be relevant to the students. Under 350 pages. No movie version. Preferable Canadian (an edict I have completely ignored in the last couple of years).
You see my dilemma?
Someone nominated How I live Now by Meg Rosoffand since I’ve been meaning to read some of her work anyway, I thought I would pick it up and see what it is all about.
And I didn’t put it down until I had swallowed it whole. In fact, if this book was dinner, you would see me licking my plate, tongue out in a very undignified dog-like imitation, trying to savour every morsel.
I am seriously considering writing to her and ordering her to be my friend. Now.
But that would be creepy so I won’t.
What can I say about this book? Under 350 Pages. Check. Movie version? Not until 2013 so check for this year. (Oh! and Saoirse Ronan to play Daisy!!!) Appropriate for grades 7 to 11? Well, let me ask you. What is appropriate for a group ranging from 12 to 17?
This is where I can get into trouble. My only measuring stick is to say that I know my daughter will be reading it this year and I feel totally comfortable with it. And I just read it as an adult and was very moved. So, as appropriate books go, I think it is. Yes, there is some underage sex, but really, when is there not?
So let me tell you about this book. How I live Now is told from the perspective of 15-year old Daisy, who has been sent away from her Manhattan life to live with her aunt and cousins in England because she does not get along with her pregnant stepmother. When the story begins, Daisy is a troubled, anorexic teen who feels unloved and abandoned. However, she finds a family in England as well as love. She slowly begins to heal when war breaks out and her life changes forever. Again.
I don’t want to give too many plot points away as they are surprising and harsh but suffice it say that Rosoff deals with everything from Daisy’s screwed up relationship to food, to a taboo but totally right love, to the horrors of war with lyricism, originality and brutal honesty.
The voice of Daisy is one that I will never forget. The way Rosoff uses run-on sentences and punctuation to get into the stream of consciousness of a teenage girl is awe-inspiring. In fact the way she flagrantly disregards all rules of grammar in a virtuoso F you to all writing how-to guides makes me want to fly to England and drive around the countryside screaming her name and asking if she will take tea (or preferably something stronger) with me.
So, yeah. This one is on my longlist.
And Meg, if you are ever in Montreal look me up. I think we would have a lot to talk about.