This Young Adult Dystopian book was written in 2004, and won the British Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the American Printz Award for young-adult literature. Hmmmm. Well, no accounting for taste.
I don’t know how I ended up with this book. I generally don’t read YA stuff unless it is considered to be a classic, and I NEVER read dystopian stories, because I am much too much of a PollyAnna to want to consider the disgusting, horrific, scary and awful possible ways our world is going to hell in a Longaberger basket. Daisies. Hillsides. Sound of Music. Alps. Blue skies. Gentle zephyrs. Yep, that’s me, dear ones.
OH! I remember now. My husband recommended it. Well, he is a fan of dystopia, so that answers THAT.
Fifteen year old Daisy, whose mother died in Daisy’s childbirth, and who dislikes greatly her stepmother, who is now preggers, and has found a wonderful course of revenge on her father by developing a severe eating disorder, is sent by the folks to her aunt, (her mother’s sister) in England to stay for a while. When Daisy arrives at the airport, she finds only her 12-year-old chain-smoking cousin Edmund, who apparently drove to the airport himself to pick her up.
This is her introduction to the cousins,which consist of an odd and clingy fey child of nine, Piper, and Edmund’s twin, Isaac, who talks only to animals, and the eldest, Osbert, the only one even within shouting distance of normal. Aunt Penn is nowhere to be seen, somewhere off at her work. She makes a brief appearance, only to whisk off again to Oslo for a conference, never to be seen again. Daisy and cousin Edmund, who by the way also is telepathic, embark on an intense incestuous sexual relationship, and pardon me all to hell, but I don’t care how poetically and lyrically it is all described, it’s still inappropriate incestuous underage sex, and I am too old and set in my ways to think it is beautiful or OK or anything else, especially for a young adult audience. I can’t imagine how it got that Children’s Fiction Prize.
It is narrated in first person by Daisy, who speaks in Capitalized Words A Lot, which starts off being Cute and Nifty, and ends up being Tedious and Just Too Precious for Words.
The Missing Mum Situation is thought to be a boon by the kids, leaving them with money in the bank, and no adult to boss them around. Peter Pan without the pirates. Until the war starts. Yep. A terrorist attack in London seems far away and nothing to do with them, as they live far out in the country on their small farm. But gradually it is clear that this is war, it is world wide, and the shortages begin, and so does the tough stuff. They are forced out of their house by the army, and the book then becomes All About Survival. Which is EXACTLY why I don’t read Dystopian Novels.
And just when it seems that All Is Lost, guess what! She makes it back to the abandoned house, where, miracle of miracles, THE PHONE RINGS!!!, and it is her dad calling from America. And guess another what! He can pull strings and get her removed from this horrendous land and brought back home, where she spends a bit of time in a shrinkatorium, then moves out on her own.
Five years later, she returns to a Recovering Britain, and the house and the cousins, who are all Doing Fairly Well except for Edmund, who is a basket case after working his disastrous way home only to find that She Had Gone Back to America and Left Him. So she Determines To Stay and Make the Best of It, gradually Bringing Him Back to the Present, gradually Healing His Mind. It’s How She Lives Now.