A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This book could lead to many spirited discussions, starting with what the book's title means. Parents and teachers may want to look at the publisher's discussion guide (pdf), or look at the questions in our "Families Can Talk About" section.
Readers will understand that it is Daisy's love for her cousins that makes her fight for her survival during a terrible war -- and it is what continues to sustain her in the war's aftermath, when she -- and the rest of the damaged world -- begin trying to rebuild.
Positive Role Models
Daisy isn't perfect -- she is anorexic at the beginning of the book and isn't too clued into the goings on of the outside world -- but ultimately she draws on her "stubbornness and ignorance and an insatiable hunger for love" in order to survive and protect the family she has chosen.
Violence & Scariness
Two bloody killings, and a graphic view of rotting corpses after a massacre, including the bodies of children. Daisy uses a gun to kill a starving pet goat. Edmond cuts himself after the war is over. References to rape.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
An incestuous underage sexual affair, presumably unprotected, between first cousins is portrayed romantically, though not graphically, and without consequences. References to rape, sex, molestation, masturbation, erections, kissing, skinny dipping, and dogs humping.
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A few expletives.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Edmond smokes, and it is portrayed as cool.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a book about kids trying to survive during a war, and does feature some vivid violence, including descriptions of the decaying bodies of massacred children and adults. Also, Daisy has a sexual and romantic relationship with her first cousin, and their love is rekindled after the war; this is portrayed without judgment but it's hard to get too hung up on this relationship given the way civilization and morality crumble around them. Indeed it is her love for Edmond and his family that makes Daisy fight for her survival. Also Edmond smokes in the book, which Daisy thinks is cool, and Daisy is anorexic at the beginning of the book, mostly to get back at her father and cruel stepmother.
Is It Any Good?
This book was awarded the Printz honor and earned numerous starred reviews, and it's easy to see why it is so popular with critics and readers. It combines so many powerful elements: The book at times takes on elements of magical realism in Daisy's near psychic connection with Edmond, and the scenes of her idyllic life in the English countryside, even after the war begins, contrast sharply with the vivid realism she is forced to deal with as she faces the horrors of starvation, exhaustion, and murder.
This is a book that teens will quickly devour -- and then spend a long time thinking about. There's much to consider, from what they would do in Daisy's place to the portrayal of modern war to what they think will happen to the survivors in the post-war world. Some readers may find the jump to six years later a bit jarring -- and others will no doubt be troubled by the sexual relationship between Daisy and her cousin -- but most teens will find this a powerful, moving tale about kids caught in a war beyond their control -- and the ways it scars them, and bonds them forever.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
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