Described as a young adult novel, Meg Rosoff’s first book was published in 2004 and won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the American Printz Award for young-adult literature. Adapted into a film and directed by Kevin Macdonald How I Live Now (2013) is set in the near-future, 15 year old Elizabeth (Saoirse Ronan), who prefers the name Daisy, is an anorexic American teenager from New York sent to stay with Aunt Penn and her three cousins Edmond (George MacKay), Isaac (Tom Holland) and Piper (Harley Bird), on a remote farm in the English countryside during the beginnings of hostilities between the authorities and what are portrayed as well armed terrorists. Initially withdrawn, homesick and feeling alienated, she soon begins to warm to her new family and surroundings, striking up a romantic fascination for her 14 year old cousin Edmund. But on the fringes of their idyllic summer days are tense news reports of an escalating conflict in Europe. As the UK falls into a violent, chaotic military state, Daisy and her extended family finds themselves fighting for survival.
What we get in fact is a group of bohemian children who live a privileged life in a large old farmhouse until a nuclear bomb explodes in London that puts the mockers on their seemingly happy and contented childhood. The film itself is reputed to be more graphic than Rosoff’s book and along with the incestuous love affair between two blood cousins would not seem suitable for young children, or am I being moralistic? Except for Saoirse Ronan’s very believable portrayal of Daisy it’s a slightly disappointing outing for Macdonald with the films trailer looking more exciting than the actual movie.