Friday, February 27, 2009

CFBA Tour - Daisy Chain

To end the week, I'm featuring Daisy Chain, the latest book by Mary DeMuth. I reviewed her parenting book, Authenitic Parenting in a Postmodern World, last year. When I saw this book on our review list for the CFBA, I was eager to read it. I appreciated her insights into parenting, so I wanted to see what her fiction was like.

The book is the start of a three book trilogy set in Defiance, Texas in 1977. Fourteen year old Jed Pepper is best friends with a vivacious young girl, Daisy Marie Chance. When she goes missing one summer night, he is convinced that it is his fault. He deals with his thoughts tormenting him on what he could have done differently, even as he battles personal demons that threaten his own family.

The book is labeled a "coming-of-age" story, and that description works for Daisy Chain. It has an authentic feel of a small Texas town. The reader feels the hot, sticky heat, can almost taste Hixon Jones' fresh lemonade, and lives the trials that Jed wrestles with throughout the book.

The book is deeper, with more to the story than a little synopsis like the one above can provide. I also don't like giving away too much of a story in a review. The book raises some challenges to the reader regarding family secrets and small town life. Just when you are convinced who the "villain" of the story is, Mary takes that character and shows a human side to them.

Sometimes the book was a little frustrating, because there are different plot threads that are introduced at various points of the book, and I didn't feel enough resolution at the end of the book. I understand that it is a trilogy, and some threads are being introduced to carry through the whole project, but to me there should have been a little more closure, or some points perhaps introduced in book 2 rather than here. I came away a little disappointed in the way the book ended. I had too much emotional investment to be satisfied. I know a good suspense series should leave one hanging, waiting for the next book, but I didn't feel a good enough set-up for book 2. The ending came rather abruptly, I guess.

I think Mary has created some very interesting characters, with flaws and a definite unique touch to each of them. No one is the stereotype here. Sometimes the viewpoint gets a little confusing, but otherwise I enjoyed most of the people we meet in Defiance (except for the ones you root against-you'll see soon enough).

Daisy Chain is not the typical book I would pick up at the bookstore. It is not my favorite book, but Mary DeMuth is a talented author, and I enjoyed much of her writing. If you like the psychological drama or a Southern-tinged coming of age story, then this should be a book that is well worth your time.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Daisy Chain, go HERE

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