The group’s latest choice was Meg Rosoff’s novel How I Live Now. This first person narrative describes events in the imagined aftermath of an armed conflict that leaves the population of the UK struggling for survival in a society bereft of all the familiar tokens of twenty first century life that we customarily take for granted. Discussion in the group focused on the relationships portrayed in the novel between the adolescent narrator and the various members of her extended family. It was felt that this was a powerful feature of Rosoff’s writing. There was agreement that the almost incidental references to the ‘war’, and the fact that the characters exist in a confusing vacuum with no way of finding out what is happening, is a convincing device that adds a sense of realism to the story. It was also felt that How I Live Now, with its account of a world where adult constraints have been removed in some way, shared certain features with a previous Reading Group selection Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and William Golding’s modern classic Lord of the Flies. The consensus of opinion was that Rosoff’s short novel is an interesting and well-written addition to the select group of stories featuring adolescent narrators handling adult themes.
The next book for discussion will be Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock.