Daisy Chain: A Novel

Daisy Chain: A Novel

4.5 55
by Mary E. DeMuth
     
 

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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.

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

In 1973 Defiance, TX, the disappearance of 13-year-old Daisy Chance from the ruins of an old church haunts the small community. Her best friend, Jed Pepper, feels guilty. Afraid of his father's blows, he left her alone despite her pleas that he stay with her. Daisy's mother is optimistic that her daughter is still alive, but some blame her promiscuous lifestyle for what happened to her daughter. Jed is determined to find his friend and to protect his little sister, Sissy, from the dangers in the woods as well as the violence at home. DeMuth's (Watching the Tree Limbs; Wishing on Dandelions) third novel is a coming-of-age novel in the classic Southern gothic tradition, and while it has moments of brilliance, it unravels at the end. Still, this is worth reading for the complex relationships, skilled prose, and the author's depiction of God's redemption in difficult times. Recommended for public and regional libraries.


—Tamara Butler
School Library Journal

Adult/High School

Fourteen-year-old Jed is the son of an admired and respected preacher in Defiance, TX. His younger sister, Sissy, soulfully longs for a dog and, with a timid lisp, references Anne of Green Gables and The Velveteen Rabbit . His artistic mother writes daily notes and affirmations on the petals of stolen flowers. What the congregation doesn't realize, however, is that Jed's father is a violent, abusive, and controlling force who permeates his family's sense of self and safety. To further complicate Jed's formidable hardships, his friend Daisy Marie Chance has just disappeared from their small town after he neglected to walk her home. What follows are Jed's Sisyphean struggles to set things straight: protect his mother and Sissy, stand up to his tyrannical father, and find Daisy. His only-and possibly dishonest-companions are Daisy's "loose" and hardened mother, a quirky prophet, and an ex-cult member dying of cancer. Slightly troublesome here is the use of colloquialisms that start to sound too quaint in their frequent overuse. Further, there are a plethora of loose ends and a few awkward time lapses-but this is the first book in a proposed trilogy. Despite these challenges, the intrigue of Daisy Chain will have definite appeal to teen readers of Christian fiction, especially to boys who will appreciate Jed's perspective and attempts to rectify his faith with real life.-Shannon Peterson, Kitsap Regional Library, WA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780310278368
Publisher:
Zondervan
Publication date:
01/01/2009
Series:
Defiance Texas TrilogySeries Series
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Daisy Chain is a hauntingly beautiful novel in which innocence gives way to the unspeakable one awful summer in Defiance, Texas. Mary De Muth's storytelling has never been stronger, nor the stakes more desperate. This is one story that will linger long, long after the last page is read. — Sharon K. Souza, Author of Lying on Sunday and Every Good & Perfect Gift

Every now and then a book comes along that weaves its way into your soul and takes up residence. Daisy Chain is such a book. Heartbreaking. Hopeful. And peopled with unforgettable characters—Jed, Hixon, Bald Muriel, and the irrepressible Daisy—who wind their way into your heart and won't let go. Reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird, this book will leave a lasting mark on your heart and soul. Thank you, Mary De Muth, for writing it. — Laura Jensen Walker, Author of Daring Chloe and Turning the Paige

Daisy Chain, the first book in the 'Defiance Texas Trilogy,' is a powerful story of friendship, family secrets, and the presence and love of God in the darkest of places and through the darkest of days. Readers should be advised to clear space on their bookshelves for this emotion-packed story. — Tamara Leigh, Author of Faking Grace and Paying Piper

Daisy Chain is a spell-binding, beautifully mysterious masterwork of a story that will both frighten and comfort, break your heart and mend it again. Mary De Muth is one of our very best authors, and you will savor this novel from the first page to the last. — Kathleen Popa, Author of To Dance in the Desert and The Feast of Saint Bertie

Mary De Muth has written yet another lyrical tale of haunting secrets and lavish redemption. Daisy Chain is sure to steal your heart and take your breath away. — Claudia Mair Burney, Author of Zora and Nicky: A Novel in Black and White.

Daisy Chain grabbed my heart immediately, broke it with Jed's struggles, and healed it with the touch of Grace in his broken world. Mary De Muth has penned a compelling tale that kept me turning pages until the surprising, yet satisfying, conclusion. I can hardly wait for the next installment from Defiance. — Janelle Clare Schneider

Mary De Muth's artistic flair for the sublime and the subtle shines in Daisy Chain. Painfully poignant and realistically redemptive, this is a story to savor and ponder. — Susan Meissner, Author of The Shape of Mercy

Within a few paragraphs of Daisy Chain I found myself letting out a contented sigh. The story captured my attention from the first page, but more than that the writing has a melody to it. If words can lull one into a story, these did. Reminiscent of Peace Like a River only different, better. — Vickie Newton, Author of ACFW Book of the Year winners Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights.

Mary Demuth's latest novel, Daisy Chain, is a deeply moving tale of love and loss, hope and heartache. Richly drawn characters and a starkly believable southern setting paint a landscape that this reader will not soon forget. Highly recommended. — Annette Smith, Author A Bigger Life.

Mary Demuth's beautiful, lyric style of writing will capture you and draw you into this compelling story of hope and grief, of innocence lost, and redemption found, even in the midst of suffering. Jed's journey will linger in a reader's heart, long after his story is over. Daisy Chain is another brilliant masterpiece by one of my favorite authors. — Susan May Warren, Award-winning Author of Nothing But Trouble, a PJ Sugar novel

Meet the Author

Mary DeMuth is the author of several southern novels, including A Slow Burn, Life in Defiance, and the Christy award finalists, Watching the Tree Limbs and Daisy Chain. She’s also written four parenting books and a memoir, Thin Places. She’s passionate about the written word, teaching, and mentoring writers. Mary lives in Texas with her husband, Patrick, and their three children.

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Daisy Chain 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
angeleyesAS More than 1 year ago
This is a compelling, poignant and haunting story of hope in a small southern town centered around the missing Daisy. The many memorable characters paint a lovely portrait of Daisy in flashbacks and descriptions of her wonderful character.Sadly, Jed is molded by his environment of mental and physical abuse by his father. This is a gripping, powerful story of raw emotions as the search continues throughout for Daisy, displaying also tenderness, beauty and kindness as tragedy brings people closer. This is a memorable read that will haunt you for years!
Audrey4j More than 1 year ago
Another title for this book could have been "Secrets of the Upstanding Christian Leader," but of course DeMuth's is better. What is Daisy Chain? First, it is NOT a strawberry fluff entertaining book with a whipped topping end. But it IS a compelling, thought-provoking message for most American Christians. DeMuth wrote the story after she had conversations with children of "upstanding" Christians who abused behind closed doors. Readers will understand why DeMuth is acclaimed as a rising star in the CBA. One reason: she writes rich characters. The main character is a teenage boy, but this is a book that any age can appreciate. I realize I related to the characters out of the agonies of my own dysfunctional growing up. But DeMuth always left me with hope. Even Daisy's death left little sunbeams of faith around the edges. Readers follow the perspective of 14-year-old Jed, whose best friend Daisy goes missing. Add to Jed's life the sometimes dark tale of severely flawed parents, abuse, anger, growing into his own world view, protecting his little sister, and reconciling the fear that Daisy's disappearance is his fault. DeMuth's metaphors are seamless, melding into the narrative with her strong writing. I did experience confusion with the references to Jed as an adult. I felt jarred each time, and found myself stopping to figure out what happened. Or puzzling over the story as I loaded the dishwasher. Daisy Chain is the first in a trilogy, and some questions are left unanswered, but readers will undoubtedly find solutions in the remaining novels. I recommend Daisy Chain for anyone desiring a fascinating tale that challenges the reader in the right places-to understand that everyone is flawed, that no one is perfect, and we all need redemption. Reviewed by Audrey Hebbert, M.A., author of Green Light Red Light
CathyBryant More than 1 year ago
Imagine the horror of learning a child in your community is missing. Now pretend that you are the best friend of the child that's missing. Go one step further: How would you feel if, as the best friend, you believed you were somehow to blame? The book, "Daisy Chain" by Mary DeMuth, tells the story of fourteen-year-old Jed Pepper, whose best friend, Daisy Chance, disappears one summer evening in 1977. The first chapter is a poignant scene between Jed and Daisy, and takes place right before she goes missing. The rest of the story tells about Jed's struggle with guilt, and his journey to find out what has happened to her. But interwoven throughout this main story is a second thread dealing with family secrets. As you can well imagine, because of the subject matter this is not a "fluffy" read. It's gritty and raw and edgy, but it's all those things done well. Here are the things I particularly enjoyed about this book: 1. STRONG CHARACTERIZATION The author does an amazing job of bringing the characters to life on the page. Many times when you read a book told from the viewpoint of children, the characters seem like miniature adults instead of kids. Not in this story. One of my all-time favorite books is "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. The main thing that drew me into that story was the voice of Scout. The voices of Jed, Sissy and Daisy from "Daisy Chain" are equally compelling. 2. TIGHTLY WOVEN PLOT STRUCTURE The skill Mary DeMuth displays as she weaves in the story thread of family secrets is nothing short of masterful. If you've ever watched a person skilled at embroidery, you will understand what I mean. They sew in this thread and that one, and a work of art comes together in a beautiful whole. That is what happens in this story. 3. TRUE TO LIFE PLOT We all love fairy tale endings where everyone lives happily after. The only problem with fairy tales is--well, they're just that--fairy tales. DeMuth brings resolution to this story without tying all the loose ends into one pretty package. The characters still have issues to address and deal with when the story ends. That makes it more true to life for me. 4. A GREAT SUPPORTING CAST All my favorite movies have a good supporting casts, and that's one thing I appreciated about this book. The secondary characters were realistically portrayed and compelling. There was also a great deal of variety among the secondary characters. The story's main antagonist is Jed's father, Hap Pepper. The author makes the reader sympathize with even this character, which makes the "bad guy" in the story more realistic, and not a cardboard stereotype. 5. GREAT CHAPTER ENDING HOOKS One way great authors keep readers turning the pages is through strong chapter endings--those endings where you can't put the book down. That's definitely true of "Daisy Chain." If it's getting late and you have to up early the next day, I highly suggest stopping in the middle of the chapter. If you read on to the end, I guarantee you won't put it down. If you're looking for a story with a strong spiritual thread of remption, lifelike characters and an amazing plot, you won't be disappointed with "Daisy Chain" by author Mary DeMuth.
BevVarnado More than 1 year ago
From the first sentence, Mary Demuth's skillful writing draws the reader willingly or unwillingly into this tragic tale. Though the sadness seems almost too great to bear at times, the reader presses on for redemption. The poignant story of young Daisy Chance's disappearance and the dark secrets of her friend Jed Pepper will resonate with those whose lives have also been scarred by tragedy. Jed's pilgrimage through pain caused by closeted family matters offers the reader an emotional peak behind the door of abuse, and the guilt that riddles its victims. Demuth presents the victim's plight with heartrending accuracy and doesn't shy away from having her characters ask the questions that dog situations like this. She wisely resists offering pre-packaged answers but does consistently point the reader in the direction of the Cross. As the first of the Defiance Texas Trilogy, several threads lack resolution. The reader is sure to return to Defiance again and again for more of this compelling story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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 his 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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was beyond pleasantly surprised by this book.I had never heard of this author, and was a little worried about reading a book under the category of "Religion"This book is amazing! It marries discovering faith with a real-world painful accident. From the very start you feel the characters and go through the emotions as they are going through them. You want to reach through the pages and hug, cry, laugh, surrender and believe right along with them. All the while bringing to light the power of faith and religion.Not one sentence in this book feels like a lecture. Instead, it uses an incident which happens in each American community at one point or another, and shows how by letting go ofpre-judgements and conceptions, everything can be overcome and healed.One note I must add is that once you read this book, you have no choice but to continue with the series. Not because of obligation, but because you get so attached to the characters, that you want to be there for them when they continue their journey. Not one character you meet in this book is a throwaway. They are all written for a reason and are integral to making the story what it is. To do that is a rare gift this author has mastered.This first book in the Trilogy is a sure smash! The second book, "A Slow Burn" is sure to be just as enticing and well written. Please be sure to look out for it as it comes out October 1, 2009.
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julialynn More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading Mary DeMuth's novel "Daisy Chain," first book in the Defiance Texas Trilogy. It was a hard read for me. The story of the small Texas town of Defiance is told through the young eyes of fourteen-year-old Jed Pepper. His closest friend, Daisy Chance, has gone missing, and he's sure it's all his fault. Town secrets come to light during the search for Daisy, and we experience it all from Jed's viewpoint--the viewpoint of a child living in a house full of its own secrets. I was too captivated by the story to stop reading, since Mary DeMuth has a writing style that wrapped me up inside Jed's head--and there was my pain. Having grown up in a house of secrets myself, the author's uncanny ability to write from within the mind of a child unnerved me. I lived each emotion as Jed did: each moment of powerlessness, shame, guilt or rage. I felt his tentative hope, his doubts. What I loved most about this book was the very thing that made it hard reading, the author's ability to crawl inside a child's head and stay true to the telling through his eyes. For this reason I highly recommend this book and author.
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Novel_Teen_Book_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Review by Gretchen Hoffman Mary E. DeMuth's latest book, Daisy Chain, is a coming of age story about fourteen-year-old Jed Pepper. He lives in Defiance, TX in 1977, a time of small towns where parents didn't have to worry about their children running around. At least they didn't until young Daisy Chance goes missing. Not only is Daisy Jed's best friend, but he was the last one to see her. Jed faces guilt over the disappearance of his friend and struggles with hidden hurts from his seemingly picture-perfect family. Through his pain, Jed must learn to overcome his guilt and find redemption. This novel has been compared to Harper Lee's infamous book, To Kill a Mockingbird. Let's just say I can totally understand why. It's the newest coming of age story that is so well-written. Daisy Chain has beautiful prose, off-beat but very real characters, and a delicate story. It's one of those books that stays in your mind long after you've finished reading it. The story is a little sad, and I couldn't help wishing things would have turned out differently, but alas, life isn't always happily-ever-after. I would recommend it.
JosieKramer More than 1 year ago
I was beyond pleasantly surprised by this book. I had never heard of this author, and was a little worried about reading a book under the category of "Religion" This book is amazing! It marries discovering faith with a real-world painful accident. From the very start you feel the characters and go through the emotions as they are going through them. You want to reach through the pages and hug, cry, laugh, surrender and believe right along with them. All the while bringing to light the power of faith and religion. Not one sentence in this book feels like a lecture. Instead, it uses an incident which happens in each American community at one point or another, and shows how by letting go ofpre-judgements and conceptions, everything can be overcome and healed. One note I must add is that once you read this book, you have no choice but to continue with the series. Not because of obligation, but because you get so attached to the characters, that you want to be there for them when they continue their journey. Not one character you meet in this book is a throwaway. They are all written for a reason and are integral to making the story what it is. To do that is a rare gift this author has mastered. This first book in the Trilogy is a sure smash! The second book, "A Slow Burn" is sure to be just as enticing and well written. Please be sure to look out for it as it comes out October 1, 2009.
MPadrelanan More than 1 year ago
Victory through trials and tribulation is the theme of Daisy Chain by Mary E. DeMuth. Thirty years ago in Defiance, Texas, the summer when Jed Pepper was fourteen, his best friend, Daisy Marie Chance, died. Jed saw Daisy last after they met in their usual meeting place. He was worried about going home early so he left Daisy alone to go home by herself. A few hours after, still worrying this time if Daisy came home safely, he decided to go back to the old abandoned church where he left her. There he found one of Daisy's shoes but no Daisy. He went to her home and found that she has not come home. Filled with guilt, he spends the following days and weeks searching for her as best as he could. But Jed also had problems of his own. His father was their town's preacher. They seemed like the perfect Christian family, but nobody in their town knew what was really going on inside their home. As Jed deals with guilt over Daisy, he also has to deal with their problems at home. I've had to constantly stop and reflect while I was reading this book. Mary de Muth writes with such poignancy and truthfulness that I was so affected with sadness and pain as I read this. The pain that abuse brings is brought to reality here. Though there is no usual happy ending to this story, there is also the reality of hope in the Lord, that even if our start in this world is so bad, God is still there and is able to change our lives. This is a beautiful, beautiful book and should be read by many. Daisy Chain is the first book in the Defiance, Texas trilogy. It includes group discussion questions at the end of the book.
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ChandraLynn More than 1 year ago
Sometimes you find an author who is able to take difficult subjects, tough truths and weave a poignant story from them. It is rare, indeed, to find books of such depth that also draw you in and will not let you put them down. Every time I crack the binding of a book by Mary Demuth I know I am opening such a book. Her skill at telling stories is made more memorable by the subjects and the characters she creates. Daisy Chain is yet another example of turning trials to triumph. Jed Pepper lives in a typical small town. The time is 1977. His best friend, Daisy Chain, goes missing and Jed is convinced it is his fault. Daisy, in her sweet innocence left a trail of clues for Jed. As Jed follows the clues determined to find her, he finds other hidden things along the way. Hidden secrets within his own family that threaten to destroy his own world. At a time when he needs her the most, his best friend is gone. Jed must grow into manhood through difficult circumstances and only as he does will he find the truth of a God always present, even when no one else is. This is a beautiful, heart-wrenching story or growing up, rebuilding, and redemption. The reader will be drawn into the lives of the characters and work through each struggle with them. It takes one back to simpler days that held complicated problems and the knowledge that God is always there. Daisy Chain will challenge the reader, and touch hearts. I recommend this book for anyone, but especially those searching for God's Hand in the trials of life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago