Most children are encouraged to read; schools praise young ones who exceed in their reading abilities, and have periods dedicated entirely to books. In the U.K., libraries hold summer reading events to encouraging book after book to be consumed by little eyes in order to earn stickers, medals and pictures of adventures. However, come the ages of 14 or 15, reading is not seen as that important anymore. This is usually the period of a young teen’s life when they start to be distracted by the rules of society which they never paid attention to before and the stress of exams which tend to associate reading with a curriculum, instead of joy. Suddenly, reading is more frequently used to cram for exams fixed in a tight, demanding schedule, rather than for pleasure.
Literature was the subject I enjoyed the most and excelled in during high school, and I held on to books through exam seasons and the turbulent tune of young adulthood. I lived near local libraries, and enjoyed finding new reads to dive into; I enjoyed Potter, of course, and found my way to John Green the way most teenagers did, but I also liked to find my hands on books that I’d never heard anything about. This is how I came across Meg Rosoff.
How I Live Now begins as a seemingly normal YA book, following Daisy, a (rather moody) teenager sent to live with her cousins in the countryside of the U.K.; unimpressed with her father and stepmother who are about to have a child, Daisy is pleased to escape but still maintains a negative outlook as she settles into her new home. However, her cousins surround her with a sense of joy and safety, and Daisy becomes happier than she has ever been; she even falls in love in a way that neither she nor the reader expects. However, the tale is set on the brink of a war, and the impact of this is strong on Daisy and her cousins; while, at the start, they survive on the love they hold for one another despite harsh situations, the cousins are ripped apart by a group of soldiers who separate the boys from the girls. Daisy and her little cousin, Piper, face the brutal reality of war as they attempt to reunite with their male cousins.
While the plot is gripping, it is its style of writing which particularly took me. Meg Rosoff writes from the point of view of Daisy and depicts war and love and sadness stunningly well; to enforce the effect of the main character absorbing the words which surround her, all forms of speech within the majority of the book are written Like This. The words of characters are announcements; claims which prop up their character. I had never read a style like it before, and I found Meg Rosoff’s writing so enticing that I went on a search for her other works.
Just in Case also stayed with me. By the same author, the book depicts a teenage boy who, after a brush with just the chance of death, is convinced that Fate is determined to end him. Justin Case – formerly David Case – becomes the walking embodiment of paranoia as he changes everything he can about himself in hopes of hiding from Fate. The book has inserts from the point of view of Fate and the whole text, together, is quite haunting; again, I’d never read anything like the notion it presented.
Books like those of Meg Rosoff’s provided me a route of escapism through young adulthood, but also helped me learn new vocabulary and writing styles. A major factor which contributed to my literature abilities was reading as I continued to grow, and I believe that this applies to a large majority of others; this is why young adult books are so important, as they apply to a crucial point within individuals’ lives which shapes their outlook on something that could help them grow and learn.