Synopsis from Goodreads.
Losing love, fighting guilt, seeking hope.
Daisy’s mum is gone. Her dad refuses to talk about it and as far as Daisy’s concerned, it’s all her fault…
Saving Daisy is a powerful and moving story that follows the life of Daisy Houghton who first featured in Phil Earle’s critically acclaimed debut, Being Billy.
As Daisy struggles with misplaced guilt over her mother’s death, she turns to extreme and violent measures and soon her life starts spiralling out of control. This leads to tragedy and suddenly Daisy finds herself left all alone. But sometimes the kindness of a stranger can turn things around. A stranger who desperately wants to save Daisy – if she’ll only let herself be saved.
Can I just leave it at that?
Can we just call that my review?
No? You want more? God, sometimes you are the most demanding readers ever.
You will know by now how much I loved Being Billy by Phil Earle so I was practically chomping at the bit to read his next book. Saving Daisy tells the story of Daisy Houghton, who you will know if you’ve read Billy’s story. I’ve been thinking about how to class Saving Daisy and I’m failing miserably. I wouldn’t call it a sequel and, you know… I wouldn’t even call it a companion book.
Actually, you know what? I’m going to use my YA reviewing power (it’s a real thing, of course it is) to say that Saving Daisy is a standalone book. Definitely*.
This is Daisy’s story and no one gets a look in. And this is her time.
Of course I loved Being Billy but Saving Daisy, in my opinion, was even better.
I’m going to avoid talking about the plot because it’s good to know as little as you can before reading this book. I find that this book’s shocks and twists are infinitely better when they thwack you across the back of the head completely out of the blue. If you’ve read Being Billy, you may have an inkling of what happened to her before her cameo in BB. But take that inkling and throw it out of the window because, mate, you have no idea.
This book made me laugh hysterically. This book made me so unbelievably angry. This book made me want to put The Shawshank Redemption on and weep into a pillow. This book broke my heart.
At first I thought it was the subject matter, something that is very personal to me, and I thought maybe I was just connecting to it because of that and there was a chance that I was being biased. But then I thought that I was doing a huge disservice to Mr Earle’s writing which is the main reason my heart now lies bleeding on my bedroom floor.
My favourite kind of writer is an authentic writer, one that knows what they’re talking about, and Mr Earle’s writing is 100% authentic. Through my unrivalled researching skills, (like… um.. Googling him and looking at his ‘About Me’ section on his website) I found out that Mr Earle used to work as a care worker before he became a writer. And this shows. He doesn’t sugar coat the issues that children like Billy and Daisy have nor does he make them more horrifying than they are just to make a good story.
Mr Earle employs a great subtlety to his writing that made this book so affective. In the hands of a lesser writer, Daisy’s story could have got very overwhelming extremely fast. I won’t lie to you: there is a lot of angst in this book. If you’re looking for neat, happy endings and conclusions that come with a nice bow then I couldn’t recommend this book to you. You can tell that Mr Earle is a huge fan of telling uncomfortable, unforgettable and realistic books that might not always be the most fun to read… but they challenge the reader and really make them think.
Which is lucky because so am I.
I always find that there is a common criticism for authors who write for teenagers and it is: how can an adult write authentically for teenagers? And I won’t lie, some authors can’t. Their dialogue is cringey and unrealistic, the issues are picked randomly and sensationalised because that’s what they feel teenagers worry about and then some authors put horrifying cultural references (*shudders*) to show how ‘cool’ they are… luckily, Mr Earle doesn’t rely on that to show that he’s a brilliant teen writer. He relies on his writing.
But what about a grown man writing from the perspective of a teenage girl?
Nah, he’s got that covered too.
Daisy Houghton was such a glorious character and I would like to be best friends with her. Without the risk of sounding like a fruit loop (What do you mean it’s too late for that?!) I like to judge my YA books on whether I would like hang out with the main characters.
And with this I mind, I would like to be best friends with Daisy Houghton.
I’m not sure how I feel about getting up early to go cliff-trekking but a third of my degree was in film studies so I would be more than willing to sit and watch and discuss films while I ate an entire bag of popcorn. Actually, no… strike that. I loved Daisy so much I would share my popcorn with her, something that is unheard of. People have lost fingers for attempting to get at my popcorn*.
When I looked back at my notes to write this review I noticed that, as the book went on and we got to know Daisy more, it seemed I became more and more protective of her. One actually reads “OMG DON’T YOU DARE DO THAT.” Well… not actually… because my Kindle-typing is ridiculous and I was trying to balance standing on the train so it really read “ohk font yu dare dp tht” but the sentiment still stands.
I loveloveloved her and she will be forever one of my most authentic, genuine, compassionate, broken, favourite YA heroines.
OK, just had a skim through my review and it seems to be sponsored by the word “authentic”, but I make no apologies because isn’t that what you want in a contemporary book?
It can also be sponsored by the word: “British”, “compelling”, “horrifying”, “hopeful”, “brilliant”, “powerful”, “unflinching”, “astonishing” and “OMGWHYAREN’TYOUREADINGIT?”.
The latter, word I feel, the most apt.
And of course it’s a word, so be quiet.
It’s so wonderful to find yet another British YA author who will be added to my “Read Everything They Write Even if it’s on a Post-It” list.
Oh and before I go, I just want to say that it’s really refreshing to read a YA book set in Northern England. It’s good to see that there are authors believe in THE DREADED NORTH and not that the UK just ends after you’ve left London. It may be grim up here, but as Mr Earle has shown, it proves for brilliant stories.
*Actually, there is a part in Saving Daisy, right at the end, that was so wonderful and moving and gorgeous that I rushed back to read a certain part in Being Billy and it made a lot more sense and made both books more poignant. Maybe that’s me. Maybe I’ll bribe one of you who haven’t read either of them to read Saving Daisy first and then Being Billy and see if my theory is correct. Muhahahaha.. I’m like the Dr Jekyll of YA blogging. *cue lightning bolts*
*I very nearly fell out with my best friend who dared to suggest we got salty popcorn once. I mean… urgh..