How I Live Now

So, I became aware of this trailer:

How I Live Now, written in 2004 by Meg Rossoff, is the twisted fairytale of Elizabeth – preferring to be known as Daisy – a ‘problem teenager’ who’s sent from America to stay with her cousins on an English farm. Friendships are made, adventures are had and young (if rather problematic) love blossoms – right up until the country comes under attack from within, and Daisy’s new family are shaken and scattered. How will Daisy live then?

Loving this book as I do, I will admit to being skeptical as to how well it will actually work as a film. Daisy’s narrative is long, rambling and entirely without quotation marks, and while it most definitely works on the page, the chances of it playing out true to form on screen are less likely. For example:

It turned out that we were being Sequestered which had to be explained to me since I’m not in the habit of having people take over a perfectly private house to send the inhabitants off to live god knows where for the Duration, and all I could think was this would not happen in America but of course for all I knew the Green Beret was already holed up in Bloomingdales.

[…]Osbert was the only one with the courage to say what we were all thinking, which was What about us? And the army guy looked up in an absent kind of way that told us everything we needed to know about how concerned they were for our happiness and we kind of drifted off together like a huddled mass yearning to breathe free, no one wanting to lose track of any of the others.

Of course at this point it hadn’t occurred to me that we might be separated, but do you know anyone, even in the middle of a war, who’s going to take on a group of five kids especially ones like us who don’t exactly remind you of Little Women even on our best day?

I adore the narration of How I Live Now; it’s funny, thoughtful and extremely effective, never shying away from the harrowing effects of war, of which there are many. I have the feeling it’s not going to survive the transition to film, though I could be wrong.

Also, spoiler alert, adaptation inevitably brings about change; it’s clear from the trailer that ages have been rearranged in order to make certain plot points more palatable to the general audience. In the book, Daisy falls in passionate reciprocated love with her first cousin, Edmond, who is – shock! horror! – a year younger than her; fifteen and fourteen respectively. Since a sexual underage relationship would probably bump up the rating, Edmond now takes the place of the book’s oldest brother, Osbert. (No word yet on whether the blood relation remains.)

There are also various encounters and scenes in the film that I’m pretty sure weren’t in the book,  but are no doubt necessary to pad out what I will admit is a fairly quiet third act. Saoirse Ronan, no doubt drawing on her experience from Hanna (2011) looks to be a great Daisy,  while the supporting cast seem promising.

All in all, I’m curious to see whether How I Live Now manages to match its source material.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. paoloblogs says:

    I’ve not read the book but this is an interesting post nonetheless 🙂

    1. Please do try to read it; it’s one of the best young adult books I’ve ever read. One of the best books I’ve ever read period, really. 😀

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