“Don’t count yourself out this early […] You’re all sorts of things you don’t even know yet.”
TJR’s most recent novel tells the story of famous 70’s rock band Daisy Jones & The Six – how they formed, their rise to fame and their shocking split at the height of their successful career. While the main plot unravels how the band disbanded, the book is also a close character study. Daisy Jones & The Six is written as an oral history and captures the voices of a wide cast of individuals. From the band members and record producers, to a Rolling Stone journalist, readers receive both congruent and opposing iterations of this band’s journey. You’re never quite certain if what you’re reading (or hearing, if you opted for the audiobook) is the truth.
It took me awhile to process this book and my feelings towards it. There’s so much going on that I needed to step back and slow down a few times. What I enjoyed about this book was the setting, its format and its characters. I love listening to music from the sixties/seventies (thank you parents), and haven’t read many books set in these time periods. TJR’s story-telling really pulls you in, and I felt like I was living in these decades.
The format also had me invested in the story. In the past, interview-style books were a miss for me because there’s a lot more “saying” than “doing” (i.e. characters will be described as “adventurous” rather than being shown as such through their actions or interactions with other characters). However, I didn’t find the oral history/interview format an issue with Daisy Jones & The Six. While it made it hard to connect with the characters, the format worked quite well for the most part. It was as if I had this rock band documentary playing in my head while reading.
Another interesting thing with the formatting is that the “creator” of this oral history is piecing together dialogue from different characters, at different interviews and times. You’re dealing with clashing perspectives that blur our understanding of the truth about the band, their challenges and their success. It was fascinating getting inside the heads of multiple characters (many of whom were amazingly written – real, flawed, strong characters!).
Daisy Jones & The Six is a wild and fun ride, but it also addresses topics such as substance abuse and addiction. Amidst all the dialogue, it was initially quite hard to see where TJR was going with these topics and the overall story. Towards the end, however, I realized that a larger theme was human connection, and how that helps many of the characters work through their struggles. Being in a difficult place in life is terrifying and overwhelming. You feel alone (just as Daisy had been most of her life) or feel that there’s nothing that can be changed. But then, someone steps in, offers their support and expresses their faith in you. That can make a huge difference.
“When I was drowning
Three sheets and counting
The skies cleared
And you appeared
And I said, ‘Here is my Aurora'”
Note: Daisy Jones & The Six is not a real band from the 70’s (*cue sad music*). But this is a testament to the author’s incredible writing skills and story-telling. Well done TJR for bringing these characters to life. This book is also going to be adapted into a T.V. series, so keep an eye out for that!