Young Adult Literature; Coming-Of-Age; Dystopian; War Drama
In essence, How I Live Now tells the story of Daisy's coming-of-age during World War III in England. Most likely to appeal to those about to come of age themselves, How I Live Now deals with common themes faced during adolescence, like first love, taking on a more grown-up role in life, moving on to new adventures, and family.
Mixing in the dystopian and war drama genres, however, gives How I Live Now an interesting twist on the typical YA coming-of-age story. Instead of the typical teenage family angst that one deals with when trying to balance family and finding your own place in the world, Daisy's family helps the process right along by kicking her out and sending her across the Atlantic, where before long, she finds herself navigating war in a pretty up-close and personal fashion.
Adding to the twists this book brings, instead of a typical high school jock/bad boy crush, Daisy's first love is her younger cousin. And instead of the standard high school drama, Daisy's dealing with losing her home, being displaced, caring for her younger cousin, helping in the war effort, escaping the unnamed Enemy, and finding her way back to the rest of her family, who she's not sure is even alive.
In some ways, knowing that the dystopian and war elements are imminent changes the way we read the novel. At the beginning, it looks as though this could just be a typical coming-of-age story—until the war enters their backyard, Daisy and her cousins are blissfully oblivious to what's going on in the world around them, and it's easy to imagine a story centered on the romance, the family, and Daisy's future. But that's not what happens. Not by a long shot.