Taylor Jenkins Reid’s latest novel is an avant-garde in its own right: ambitious, hardly pretentious, and a larger than life endeavor that realistically portrays the hard and fast life of rock and roll. Choosing the autobiographical format of a fictional band in the 70s, she successfully allowed her readers to immerse in the life of her characters.
By choice, I am one of those readers who can’t stand destructive characters, and Daisy Jones was simply destruction, defined. On the other side of the coin was Billy Dunne. A reformed drug and alcohol addict who nearly ruined his life and marriage if not for fatherhood.
Reading this novel wasn’t easy. Often times, it angered me. Not because the writing was comically bad, because, hell, this is TJR, after all. But it was the story itself that bothered me. I’m an unforgiving reader when it comes to drug use in books. Call me prude, but I just can’t sit here and watch it unfold before my eyes. I get so bothered by characters that use drugs to escape, and use drugs as a means to explain the person they’ve become, their source of weakness and strength, their hell and oblivion. I just can’t.
My encounter with her novels has never been the stuff of legends. In fact, out of all her books (that I mostly own), I’ve only read two. And it’s because I found I have to psych myself up to reading them. I know her novels are as real as it gets. Difficult relationships and equally difficult characters littered the pages of her books. Why I never bought a clue that Daisy Jones would be just as hard a character to decode escapes me.
This novel reads like an episode of VH1 Behind the Music; an oral history of their lives, their music, their heartbreaks, successes, and failures. I could readily admit that throughout my life, I’ve never read something like Daisy Jones. It was ingenious and at times, I could easily ignore the stuff that bothered me. But since drugs are as regular as breathing for Daisy, it was a challenge.
So Billy Dunne and Daisy Jones cross paths largely in part because of a mutual friend that saw the potential of what their combined talents could bring. The dynamic was tenuous at best. Both are hardheaded and dedicated to their craft. Neither wanted to give in without drawing blood first, but underneath – a mutual respect. One of the story arcs that I also could not forgive is cheating. But in this instance, how I wish one of the characters in this book actually gave in and damned the consequences.
In the end, I wish I could’ve loved Daisy as much as Daisy loved her drugs. Unfortunately, and as much this novel was amazingly written, I couldn’t forgive it for not giving me what I want. And it really sucks.