Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 5th 2012 by Puffin
Description via 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.
My thanks go to Puffin for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
The first thing that I'm going to say about this book is simply 'Wow'. I didn't know much about this book when I picked it up, only that I liked Daisy's character in Being Billy, Earle's debut novel. I could see a lot of potential and depth in Daisy from her appearance in Being Billy and this book certainly reached and topped that potential. This is a sort-of prequel to that, though it is a standalone, and so it's not necessary to read Being Billy before you pick this one up.
It is very clear from the start that Earle has had experience in the children's care sector of work. He has worked as a carer in a children's home and also in a therapeutic community. His experience allows him to portray an extremely raw and realistic tale of a very troubled girl, Daisy. Although she is only fourteen for the most part of the book, she is very developed in her complex thoughts and feelings, even if they aren't positive ones. For this reason, I think this book would appeal to adults as well as older teenagers. The setting for this story is mostly in Bellfield, a therapeutic community and a very frank, good representation of life there is given. A lot of different mental health care aspects are explored, from fitting in with others, medication side effects, the positive affect of charities and the need for trust with any therapists.
The general atmosphere for our protagonist is set straight away. From the beginning, the novel is full of mystery and intrigue. It is clear from the first lines that Daisy is not just a two dimensional character, but much more complex. I was drawn to her and wanted to know more. We get to see the reasoning behind some of her thoughts quite early in on the book, though there is certainly a lot more to learn about Daisy, and the people she meets, throughout. My attention was completely captured by her mental health issues. Earle deals with emotional and behavioural issues such as self harm in an experienced, tactful manner. He shows how methodical it is for Daisy and gives the reader a real idea of what it is like for someone who self injures. Daisy has a huge weight burdening her and she has done for all of her life. I often felt as though I was sharing this weight with her and at a lot of points, it was very difficult to read.
Daisy has a lot of important relationships - with her father and with Ade, her key worker, in particular. I loved Ade - she was so connected to Daisy, so caring and managed to put me at ease - there was definitely an air of confidence and security about her. Naomi and the several other characters she meets whilst in the therapeutic community also play important roles in her life. Everyone who is introduced has a unique personality and it was fantastic to read a book in which people with mental health issues weren't stereotypical.
There are several twists and turns in this book which made it compulsive reading, though I often did have to put it down as some of the subject matter was very difficult, emotionally, to read about. There are an abundance of subjects tackled, from student-teacher relationships, self harm, friendships and differences, grieving, love and loss. Different coping methods are explored, as are the difference in our thought processes. The action and change in this novel is almost non-stop which makes it a real page turner. I think that Earle does manage to, despite all the difficulties, give us a real sense of hope. This is a very touching, sad but inspiring story that I'm very thankful that I read. I can't wait to see what Phil Earle has to offer us next.