Meg Rosoff (1956-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights
Born 1956, in Boston, MA; Education: Attended Harvard University; attended St. Martin's College of Art (London, England); completed B.A. degree in the United States.
Agent—c/o Wendy Lamb, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
Writer. Worked previously in publishing and advertising.
Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, and Whitbread Award shortlist, both 2004, and Michael L. Printz Award, 2005, all for How I Live Now.
(With Caren Acker) London Guide, Open Road (New York, NY), 1995, second edition, 1998.
How I Live Now, Wendy Lamb (New York, NY), 2004.
Meet Wild Boars, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2005.
Also author of screenplay adaptation of How I Live Now.
Work in Progress
A second novel.
When Meg Rosoff's youngest sister died of breast cancer, Rosoff decided that life was too short not to make an attempt to follow her own dream of being a writer. She left her job in advertising and began writing a novel, and the result was How I Live Now. Ironically, the book was published just after Rosoff herself was diagnosed with breast cancer. "I was in the hospital for my first operation when the book was released and all these flowers started arriving," Rosoff recalled to Publishers Weekly. "Half of the cards said 'Congratulations,' the other half said, 'We're so sorry.'" In spite of the diagnosis, Rosoff has remained upbeat, and How I Live Now has received critical acclaim, having been shortlisted for the Whitbread and received the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize.
How I Live Now tells the story of sassy New York native Daisy, who is spending her summer in England with relatives. She is relieved to get away from her father and "wicked" stepmother, and when she arrives in England she falls in love both with the farm where she is staying and with her first cousin, Edward. When her aunt goes out of town for a conference, it seems that the world belongs to Daisy and her cousins, but war erupts and shatters their adult-free world. Soldiers seize the farm and separate the cousins, placing Daisy with her much younger female cousin while the boys are taken somewhere else. Unwilling to be separated for long, Daisy and her cousin trek across the country to reconnect, only to face the violent results of the war before finally being reunited with each other.
A reviewer for Christian Century hailed the book as "an astonishing work of speculative fiction," while Deirdre F. Baker, writing for Horn Book, considered the story "a winning combination of acerbic commentary, innocence, and sober vision." Though some critics, including Jennifer Mattison of Booklist, noted the discomfort in the incestuous romance between Daisy and Edmond, Mattison concluded, "More central to the potency of Rosoff's debut … is the ominous prognostication of what a third world war might look like."
"A strength in the novel is the voice of Daisy—funny, spiky, and vulnerable," commented Benedicte Page, writing for Bookseller, "and it is difficult not to see a likeness to the author herself, a self-confessed 'big-mouth' … who says there is one line Daisy speaks in the novel which she herself thoroughly relates to: 'I don't get nearly enough credit in life for the things I manage not to say.'" Other reviewers also fell in love with Daisy's narration; Claire Rosser called the character "an unforgettable heroine—vulnerable and flawed, yes, but fiercely loving and tough as well." A critic for Kirkus Reviews wrote that the story is "told in honest, raw first-person and filled with humor, love, pathos, and carnage." A Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded, "Like the heroine, readers will emerge from the rubble much shaken, a little wiser, and with perhaps a greater sense of humanity."
Although Rosoff grew up in the United States, she, like Daisy, fell in love with England the first time she traveled there. "It is my spiritual home: people read books on the Tube," she explained to Page in the Bookseller interview. Soon at work on a second novel and planning to continue writing for teens, Rosoff reported in an interview for Bookbrowse.com: "I like writing for and about teens because it's a very extreme time of life, and that makes for intense transformations, intense possibilities for growth. I think many people find their teens a difficult and disturbing time, but also a time of great excitement and intensity. As a writer, you can't ask for a better set-up than that."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, September 1, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of How I Live Now, p. 123.
Bookseller, June 4, 2004, Benedicte Page, "Living through Wartime," p. 28.
Christian Century, December 14, 2004, review of How I Live Now, p. 24.
Horn Book, September-October, 2004, Deirdre F. Baker, review of How I Live Now, p. 597.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2004, review of How I Live Now, p. 693.
Kliatt, July, 2004, Claire Rosser, review of How I Live Now, p. 12.
New York Times Book Review, March 15, 2005.
Publishers Weekly, June 30, 2003, p. 12; July 5, 2004, review of How I Live Now, p. 56; December 20, 2004, "Flying Starts: Five Acclaimed Fall Children's Book Debuts," p. 30.
School Library Journal, September, 2004, Douglas P. Davey, review of How I Live Now, p. 216.
Bookbrowse.com, http://wwwbookbrowse.com/ (April 27, 2005), interview with Rosoff.
Penguin Web site, http://www.penguin.co.uk/ (August 27, 2005), interview with Rosoff.
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