When Katie Garrett travels to Texas to claim her inheritance from her deceased grandmother, she and her cousin discover letters and photographs that uncover the hidden truths about their shared history, and the long-forgotten tragedy of the New London school explosion of 1937 that binds them.
Novelist Sofia Grant is not a Texan— she lives in Oakland, Calif.—but she became so fascinated with the story of New London that she visited and researched diligently. The result is a novel containing believable characters and plenty of authentic Texas flavor, plus the author's own fictional twist on New London's factual history ... Grant meticulously unpacks her mysteries within a timeline that alternates between past and present. Not until Chapter 26 do we get a riveting eyewitness account from Katie's great-grandmother Caroline of exactly what happened on the day of the disaster—and there are yet more well-kept secrets to be revealed, even then. All the while, Grant spins a complex, 400-page family saga, combined with enough sassy humor and emotional energy to make The Daisy Children an engaging summertime tale, one based on truly heartbreaking Texas history.
Grant writes with rich details and references—from smartphones, Ubers and Amazon fulfillment centers in modern times back to the days of Brylcreem and Lavoris. Sometimes, the time jumps are a little confusing, and it takes a minute to adjust to the era at hand. But once you’re in, it’s easy to immerse oneself in the period. There’s a clear mother-daughter relationship theme, cascading down the generations—something close to Grant's heart.
There’s plenty of drama, and because this book has its beach-read elements, everyone you encounter is attractive, like they were cast straight out of Lake Wobegon. But there’s also no shortage of stick-with-you moments, exploring familial and personal grief that will leave you wondering, 'What would I do?' and wishing the protagonists knew what you know ... In the back half of The Daisy Children, as Katie grows ever closer to her grandmother’s secrets, the pace quickens with hope for a tidy resolution. But as with so many tragedies—both of the intimate, family variety and collective ones like the New London explosion—Grant embraces another universal truth: that perfect conclusions are often just out of reach.