SLIDER

'I am not a muse. I am the somebody.'


Taylor Jenkins Reid became one of my new favorite authors after I read Forever, Interrupted in 2014. Over the next few years, my love for her writing deepened with After I Do, Maybe in Another Life, and One True Loves. But when I read the summary for Daisy Jones & The Six, I was so nervous! Written as an oral history of a fictional band from the seventies that unexpectedly broke up at the height of their fame, there are so many reasons it shouldn't have worked. And yet, it did. Even better, I already know this will be on my Top Ten Books of 2019! 

It did take a little bit of time to adjust to the format. Once I did, I was hooked! Since lots of people are interviewed, you don't really get in the flow of the story until you become more familiar with the various characters. But it made so much sense for the story to be told this way, and it made me love it all the more. One thing I’ve loved about Reid since I first read her books is her willingness to experiment with the way her stories are told. From nonlinear timelines to multiple versions of one life, she always surprises me – and it’s true for this book, too.

Reid provides vivid details about the setting and time period, which was particularly impressive given the format. Characters don't communicate with the same level of detail in a conversation as an author could in a traditional third-person narrative. But I still felt as though I could picture the time period! In fact, I kept forgetting this band wasn't real. I desperately wish Aurora was a real album that I could listen to, and I'm eagerly awaiting the release of the Reese Witherspoon-produced TV mini series adaptation. This book was meant to be read and seen!

In many ways, I felt that the interview-style format + the fact that the characters were looking back on that time added a necessary sense of distance from the events taking place. The "sex, drugs, and rock & roll" stereotype is in full force here. Looking at substance abuse and addiction in real time would have been a very different story. I had more grace for the characters' missteps because I knew they were years past it. That wasn't a guarantee they'd changed – just that I could read with the hope they did. (And you do find out "Where Are They Now?" in the end.)

I appreciated the way the book looked at alcohol and drugs. It showed how glamorized it was at the time while contrasting that with the dark reality of addiction. The characters who struggle with it are very honest about what it cost themselves – and the people in their lives. I ached to see them hit rock bottom because it's devastating to watch people destroy themselves. But there's a hope for recovery here, too. There is always a sense that the characters can change their story and their ending isn't a given. And I loved that so much.

The format won't work for every reader. It can sometimes make you feel removed from the story, and it is odd to feel like you ought to have heard of this band before. But I'm so happy that I clicked with it! And I can't begin to tell you how many quotes I underlined. It should be a given that I adored Reid's writing based on all I've said about how she succeeded with a risky format, but let me add another layer to my love. While I was reading, I had to keep taking photos of pages because I couldn't stop long enough to write down my favorite quotes. Here's one:
Love is forgiveness and patience and faith and every once in a while, it’s a gut punch. That’s why it’s a dangerous thing, when you go loving the wrong person. When you love somebody who doesn’t deserve it. You have to be with someone that deserves your faith and you have to be deserving of someone else’s. It’s sacred.
And I haven't even begun to talk about the characters! They were all so well developed and varied. I loved how what they said (and what others said about them) communicated so much about who they were and what they valued. And my favorite thing of all was the numerous women supporting one another. Whether it's a best friend rescuing someone from a bad situation or a wife offering honesty and hope someone she'd have every reason to hate, the women in this book have each others' backs. Reid sidesteps all the stereotypes you'd expect.

As I was reading, I kept imagining a seventies version of The Civil Wars. I was obsessed with them from their first single on and still get sad when I think about the fact they broke up. Williams and White had an intimacy and presence on stage, and the way people talked about the band in the book was similar. Reid's story felt like a plausible answer to the question, "What happened?" And, along those lines, I absolutely loved that there were tropes in this story that didn't play out as I'd expected. And I rejoiced when I saw that "Poison & Wine" by The Civil Wars was the first song on Reid's Spotify playlist inspired by the book. Clearly, it wasn't all in my head!

The themes of the book were great and added a lot of nuance to what easily could have been a more shallow story. There's so much you could unpack here: the highs and lows of creating art, the idea of soul mates, what you'd sacrifice for your dreams, being a woman in a man's world, what it means to have faith in someone, the destructive nature of addiction, the longing to be loved and valued, how women can empower other women, and more. This would make a great book club selection, as long as your group isn't sensitive to drug/alcohol content or language.

I'm sure it's obvious that I'm so obsessed with this book. I pre-ordered the audiobook because it's narrated by a full cast, which will be so perfect for this narrative. And I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Goldsboro Books edition that I treated myself to for my birthday. This beauty will definitely be displayed on my bookshelves. I'm a little sorry that I'm adding to the hype for this book solely because I know it lies to sky-high expectations. But I can't contain my love for it! If you've read this one, let's discuss.
Release Date: March 5, 2019 | Publisher: Random House; Ballantine
Pages: 368 pages | Source & Format: Publisher/ARC & 

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.

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