Review of Daisy Chain, by Mary E. DeMuth:
A few years ago, I read Watching the Tree Limbs from the fresh new literary voice of Mary E. DeMuth. Immediately I found myself drawn to her artful prose and looked forward to her next offering. I was happy when her next novel, Wishing on Dandelions came out six months later, but waiting three more years for her third novel to be released made me impatient. Of course, Mary has been busy writing her non-fiction books, blogging away, mentoring other writers, and reaching out to spread hope in her own authentic way. I have enjoyed following her career, but like the rest of her fans, I am glad she has been quietly writing away on her latest piece of fiction and even happier to see its release.
Daisy Chain is Mary E. DeMuth’s masterpiece so far. Where her first two novels were lyrical in style, I found the prose in Daisy Chain to be quietly haunting and sophisticated. While I could hardly put it down, Daisy Chain isn’t a book a reader wants to plunge through in one day. This is a book to savor. There is too much to learn and explore for a quick read and I found I wanted to take my time with the characters.
As in her earlier works, DeMuth’s characters are youthful with a sort of wisdom that young people should not have, but have come to through the most difficult of circumtances. In Daisy Chain, the reasons for the young characters’ insight are sensitively shown on the page, but thankfully not glossed over.
When we first meet Jed Pepper and his friend Daisy, they are barely in their teens and still wrapped in the innocence of childhood friendship. Just when they begin to see a hint of their future together, it is ripped away, leaving Jed to blame himself for Daisy’s disappearance. As the adults in the community struggle to deal with the tragedy, the mystery of the disappearance seems to be mixed up with their own secrets. The truth seems just out of reach for the young Jed who sets out to find Daisy and forces himself to believe she is still alive.
As Jed stands in the passage between boyhood and manhood, he carries a tremendous weight on his shoulders. His heavy burden is surprisingly lightened by a mish-mash of unexpected, quirky characters who show God’s love to him, but can any adult really be trusted? It is difficult as a reader not to worry about Jed, sensing he might be in danger with every turn of the page.
Anyone who has experienced the painful disappearance of a child, or just followed such stories in the news, will be profoundly moved by this story about a small, southern community that is rocked by Daisy’s disappearance. The sultry Texas summer of Defiance is an appropriate background for the story as the hot climate and harsh natural surroundings encircle the mystery of what happened to Daisy.
DeMuth’s powerful story wrestles with the realities of what happens when God seems to turn his back on children, but the truth is something more profound, something that Daisy herself seemed to already understand on that fateful day before she disappeared. The ending will leave readers asking for more, but they will be glad to know the book is only the first in a trilogy.
Also visit Mary’s site, My Family Secrets, which is dedicated to helping others find hope by anonymously sharing secrets that hold them in bondage.
Get a Sneak Peek: Chapter One of Daisy Chain.
Purchase Daisy Chain here .
About Daisy Chain (From the back cover): 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