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Wood 1 Jim Wood Tom Berninghausen ENT 439-1 Studies In Young Adult Literature 09 September 2013 Daisy and

Piper Share a Power Lunch The young adult problem novel How I Live Now was written in 2004 by American born and London based writer Meg Rosoff. The book was Rosoffs first novel, and won awards in both the United States and Great Briton. The novel is narrated by a 15-year-old young woman named Daisy. Daisy father has sent her away from her home in urban New York to live with her Aunt and cousins in rural England. Ostensibly because he wanted a more trouble free existence with his new wife and child. The reader is only given Daisys interpretation of the facts leading up to her being shipped off, and the sarcastic and hyperbolic description she gives of her stepmother and half-sister set young Daisy up as a somewhat unreliable narrator. The narrative of How I Live Now is exemplary of problem literature as it addresses such young adult issues such as: alienation, depression, anorexia or eating disorders, sex and incest, drugs, rock and roll (OK I dont really think rock and roll in this instance, but its funny to include it here). One of the central themes of How I Live Now is control, and Daisys eating disorder is a major device in the exploration of that theme. Rosoff lays out the story in an enticing and engaging style that makes it easy to identify with the narrators situation. Young adult problem literature garners both criticism and praise. Opponents of this type of literature argue that these novels encourage antisocial and immoral behavior, while proponents argue that these teenage characters

Wood 2 successfully navigating challenging situations and facing social issues helps young readers deal with the real-life challenges of contemporary society. Rosoff writes Daisys dialog in a style referred to as skaz. Skaz is a Russian literary term used to, according to David Lodge in his book The Art of Fiction, designate a type of first person narration that has the characteristics of the spoken rather than the written word. The Russian authors Nikolai Gogol and Nikolai Leskov are early exemplars of this style of writing. In young adult literature this technique is quite effective in engaging readers and other examples include: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, and The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Generally when this technique is employed the author creates the illusion that the story is being related to the reader as if in conversation using the language and vocabulary of the narrator. In the book How I Live Now Rosoff employs skaz to create in Daisy a character who is relatable to the concerns, trials and tribulations of the young adult reader. The character of Daisy suffers from and eating disorder. Early in the novel Daisy gives clues to her unhealthy relationship with food. She uses food to inappropriately express her feelings about her biological mother, her father, and her fathers new family. Anorexia nervosa is a psychological disorder characterized by a body weight 15 % below the norm for ones age and height. Central to the condition of anorexia nervosa in young adults is the desire of the adolescent to exercise more control over their life. While talking to her cousin Edmund, Daisy reveals that her not eating annoyed her stepmother and, how after a while I discovered I liked the feeling of being hungry and the fact that it drove everyone stark raving made and cost my father a fortune in shrinks and it was also something I was good at ( 43-44). As the novel progresses Daisy is thrust into more

Wood 3 situations in which she has limited control. These experiences have the effect of forcing her to be more self-reliant and to attempt to take control over her situation. While traveling with her cousin Piper towards their home, the two young women run short of supplies and are forced to forage for their sustenance. While eating found mushrooms, Piper claims to have been starving. Daisy thinks to herself, No you havent, not in the same way and I hope you never are (134). Continuing on their journey and surviving by their own devices Daisy becomes more confident and in control. Rosoff seldom offers clear-cut resolution, yet in a moment of clarity Daisy realizes that, Somewhere along the line Id lost the will not to eat (159). The narrative offers ample opportunity explore issues that are germane to the lives of adolescents. Meg Rosoffs award winning novel How I live Now is an exemplar of young adult problem literature. She uses the literary technique of skaz to engage the reader in the lives of a likable group of teenagers who are attempting to traverse the dystopic world of England during a fictional World War III crisis. Rosoff uses this setting to explore teenage characters successfully navigating challenging situations and facing social issues. Novels like this can help young readers deal with the real-life challenges of contemporary society.