Pre-Release review: Daisies by Joshua Senter (releases 22.07.14)

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A simple, easy to read story about a time when things were … well … simpler! People got married and stayed married through thick and thin, like Gwen and Willie who are described in the opening paragraph of the book as being ‘common folk’, growing up in the farmlands of Oaklahoma.
We follow them through their brief courtship in their mid-teens and into their marriage, before they have even graduated from high school. Their parents – all salt-of-the-earth types, give their blessing and assist the young couple through the early years of their marriage, offering sage advice and support where needed. There is no drama, no hysteria, just day-to-day routine and the forming of a strong bond between the couple. With the arrival of baby Shiela, a slight shift and adjustment occurs as they realise that they are no longer just husband and wife, but have now become a family. Baby Butch follows soon after and their lives carry on with the normal chaos that accompanies children. Gwen goes through a brief phase of depression, but ultimately she and Willie triumph to show their children that love and respect for each other are what keeps a marriage and indeed, a family, together.
The second half of the story continues with Shiela, now in her teens and trying to cope with very different issues from those faced by her parents. The author cleverly, weaves together Sheila’s challenges and trials, to show that time has marched on, and things are not quite as simple as they were back in the teen days of her parents. Her challenges include her family not owning a convertible, or even a car with air-conditioning! Her infatuation with Peyton, the heart-throb of her school ends up with his paralleled devotion to her, but enter bad-boy Darrel, who targets Sheila knowing she will not be able to resist his charms. Sheila’s life and relationships vary greatly from the steady, secure example set by her parents. The author again, skilfully shows the passing of time, and the changes in societal challenges and issues through the introduction of a gay element, and the effects this has on family relationships, concerns which never arose in Gwen and Willie’s day.
‘Daisies’ is a readable, enjoyable story, although it does tend to plod on in places with nothing much happening. However, it presents a perceptive, subtle message of changing times, and increased pressures faced by our society today, as opposed to the less complicated lives lead by our predecessors, who didn’t have quite as many demands as we seem to have currently, and who lived by the principled believe that ‘less is more’.

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