Friday, February 27, 2009
Mary DeMuth's Daisy Chain ~ Reviewed
Daisy Chain: A Novel (Defiance Texas Trilogy)
by Mary E. DeMuth
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (March 1, 2009)
The abrupt disappearance of young Daisy Chance from a small Texas town in 1973 spins three lives out of control—Jed, whose guilt over not protecting his friend Daisy strangles him; Emory Chance, who blames her own choices for her daughter’s demise; and Ouisie Pepper, who is plagued by headaches while pierced by the shattered pieces of a family in crisis.
In this first book in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy, fourteen-year-old Jed Pepper has a sickening secret: He’s convinced it’s his fault his best friend Daisy went missing. Jed’s pain sends him on a quest for answers to mysteries woven through the fabric of his own life and the lives of the families of Defiance, Texas. When he finally confronts the terrible truths he’s been denying all his life, Jed must choose between rebellion and love, anger and freedom.
Daisy Chain is an achingly beautiful southern coming-of-age story crafted by a bright new literary talent. It offers a haunting yet hopeful backdrop for human depravity and beauty, for terrible secrets and God’s surprising redemption.
You can read the first chapter here. http://thestorybeginnings.blogspot.com/2009/02/daisy-chain-chapter-1.html
Mary DeMuth's Daisy Chain transported me to Defiance,Texas, dropped me into the mid '70's and immersed me in the home of a wounded family. Jed is fourteen and has just lost his best friend and future wife. It's his fault, because he's weak and selfish and he wouldn't walk the little spitfire home because if he did, his daddy would be upset. And when daddy is upset bad things happen. Daddy is a preacher. Jed can't quite bring himself to stand up to daddy to protect his precious sister and his sickly, broken mom -- a mom who writes messages of love, encouragement, and sorrow on flower petals and leaves them by Jed's bed.
Jed's whole world is inside out and upside down. The town is holding its breath because Daisy is missing. And heaven is brass because God isn't listening to Jed, and apparently doesn't care to.
If this little sliver of drama turns you inside out and upside down you may not want to read this book. But if you are one who claims To Kill a Mockingbird or Peace Like a River as one of your favorite novels, you really owe it to yourself to look further into Daisy Chain. Tom Morrisey, Lisa Samson, Claudia Mair Burney, Charles Martin and W.Dale Cramer fans need to look in Mary DeMuth's direction as well.
This is a novel that will haunt me for weeks and months, probably landing on my 2009 favorite list. The characters are deep and rich, complex and challenging. The story is gut wrenching and awful, and beautiful and full of the power of love and faith and Jesus. I can't imagine anyone not being horrified and then blessed as this novel opens and blooms, bleeds, withers and fades. Technically, the only complaint I had was just a few moments of transition between the adult Jed and the younger versions of Jed, and a brief incident where a scene's timing didn't quite jive in my mind. And those issues are only because I read so many books for review and can't just get lost in pages and not look for flaws that might impede a reader's experience.
I so appreciated the depth of truth and faith in this novel. Daisy Chain could be a very tough book for some readers. Child endangerment, abuse, anger, bigotry, religious bullying, drinking and hints of sexual scandal are not buried under a layer of pristine Sunday-best white gloves. I do recommend Daisy Chain to anyone who hungers for honest fiction that doesn't leave one weeping over the hopelessness of a story without redemption and grace.
Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer