In Daisy Chain, author Mary Demuth takes on some big topics: abuse, grief, alcoholism, cancer, abduction. She doesn't offer pat answers, but lets the readers consider what is presented and come to conclusions themselves. Nor are those words mentioned in the story; the issues are woven neatly through the fabric of the narrative, with the reader putting together the clues.
Jed Pepper's voice is real and heart wrenching as he deals not only with the pain of losing a best friend, but also with the trials of becoming a man. Through flashbacks, we get a picture of who Daisy was and why her friendship mattered so much to Jed. In some places, the flashbacks were jarring, as it was hard to sort out what was in the past and what was in the present; but as the novel progresses, these flashbacks form the clues in the story.
Several reviewers have compared Daisy Chain to Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird, for its coming-of-age themes, teenage narrator, and class/faith tension. It is definitely a novel that sticks with the reader and makes them think hard about the characters and their problems. Mary Demuth wove a realistic, wrenching story and I'm looking forward to seeing where the sequel goes.