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'How I Live Now': Preview the Printz winner's film adaptation

August 12, 2013|By Elisabeth Donnelly

It may have won one of America's most prestigious awards for young people's literature, but it's British fans who will get to see the movie first.

Meg Rosoff's Printz Award-winning "How I Live Now" should have all the elements for the typical YA film adaptation: war, dystopia, a great lead actress in Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan ("Atonement"), and director Kevin Macdonald ("The Last King of Scotland"), who won an Oscar for his 1999 documentary "One Day in September," behind the camera.

However, "How I Live Now's" source material is a cut above: a haunting novel about human survival narrated by a unique teenage voice that starts out bratty and ends up someplace completely different; the effect is powerful.

In addition to the 2005 Printz Award, it also attracted prize attention in England, winning the 2004 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and being shortlisted for the Orange Prize.

The film adaptation, according to Rosoff's blog, was shot on location in a remote part of Wales. "The screenplay, though quite different in many ways from the book, is very good. Emotional, modern, romantic, very English," Rosoff writes.

Rosoff's book tells the story of 15-year-old Daisy (Ronan), a worldly New Yorker who is sent to the remote English countryside to spend the summer with her bohemian cousins. All is well and reminiscent of the Dodie Smith classic "I Capture the Castle" until war breaks out, splitting the cousins up — including Daisy and Edmond, who have fallen in love — and forcing the characters into a journey for survival. As Daisy puts it in the book, "It would be so much easier to tell this story if it were all about a chaste and perfect love between Two Children Against the World at an Extreme Time in History, but let's face it, that would be a load of crap."

"How I Live Now" will be released in the U.K. in October. Magnolia will release the film in the U.S., but no date is scheduled yet.


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