Taylor Jenkins Reid creates an iconic—and entirely fictional—band in Daisy Jones & The Six. It’s set in the wild and wooly 1970s in California. Daisy is everybody’s spoiled little sister, and a singer songwriter. The band is six musicians trying to collectively move up the charts. But getting this many people to agree on anything is the consummate challenge. And their story makes for an entertaining read.
Reid tells her story as if it was a VH-1 special, à la Behind the Music. An unknown interviewer gathers dialogue. We never know if everyone is in a room together, or if the interviewer pieces all her independent conversations together afterwards. I lean towards the latter.
Each band member is included, with focus on Daisy and lead singer, Billy Dunne. Billy fancies himself “the leader” of the band. But most of his band mates disagree, and a few straight out resent him. Reid also includes Billy’s wife, the band’s manager, record company folks, and even their sound engineer. Each person has a unique viewpoint, and Reid skillfully blends them together.
Reid’s story arc is the creation of the band’s first album with Daisy, and the subsequent tour. And all the drama you’d expect from a group of strong personalities.
All in all, Daisy Jones & The Six has a rockumentary vibe mixed together with a vibrant kiss-and-tell story. Dysfunctional as they were, I liked all of the characters and felt pulled into their story.
Because Reid uses only dialogue, I needed a few chapters to get acclimated. The last book I read like this was Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. But the two books couldn’t be more different. Saunders had gazillions of characters, and Reid is more conservative. His story was part supernatural, and this book is down to earth in the messiest possible way. Just my opinion, but I think infinitely more people will love this book. It’s just so approachable.
Speaking of approachable, I confess. I really wanted to party with them, and hang out in Laurel Canyon together. A lot. In some ways I’m a child of this time period, but I’m about 10-15 years younger than the band members. So reading this is like getting the inside scoop on the bands I listened to in Junior High. It was nostalgic for me.
On the other hand, Reid addresses universal issues like love, marriage, career, and having kids. And especially whether to stay sober, and how to battle addictive forces. These topics remain just as relevant for us as they were in the 70s. Reid is delicate as well as raw in her storytelling. My heart just aches for her characters as they find their way. Or don’t.
This was my March Book of the Month [Affiliate link with extra goodies if you sign up through me. No pressure, ever.] selection. I rarely read a book from BOTM in the month I receive it. But I’m glad I read this one right away. It’s a hard-rocking book that had me misty-eyed and asking Alexa to play more 1970s music.