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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Saving Daisy
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on 4 January 2012
Having met Daisy in Phil Earle's Being Billy I was eager to find out her story. I have to say I haven't been disappointed ... Daisy's life is just as intense and gripping as Billy's was!

The prologue really does hook the reader in - you want to know if Daisy really did what she said or was it a misconception?

The first part of Saving Daisy we get to understand the relationship she has with her dad and learn about the strategy she's developed of seeming to belong with her peers while holding herself apart. We also find out that recently, Daisy found a report, which makes her responsible for the loss of her mother. To alleviate the panic this brings, Daisy copes in the only way that brings her relief - she self-harms.

Interaction with a new teacher starting at school leads to tragedy and Daisy finds herself living in a `therapeutic community' where key worker Ade has the task of building trust and sharing strategies to help Daisy come to terms with her misconceptions and how to deal with the anxiety/panic. In the therapeutic community we get to experience many dramas with the interaction of the other four residents and staff as well as Daisy's journey.

The build up to the final crisis is nail-biting and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough! I loved how the resolution tied-in with Billy's life.

Saving Daisy is written in the first person from Daisy's perception. I think the author's experience of working in a care home/as a drama therapist really shines through in Daisy's personality. It certainly shows how well he knew the people he cared for.

The characters in Saving Daisy are true to life and we get to know them through their dialogue and actions rather than descriptive writing.

I can only commend Phil Earle for his portrayal of one of the `darker' aspects of life that once again, not everyone wants to acknowledge or accept. He does not embellish or dramatise self-harming - he writes it as it is. I think readers will empathise with Daisy and I think quite a lot of people will identify with thoughts we have that aren't reality or even logical.

Although Daisy is a character in Being Billy, you don't have to have read it to be able to understand Daisy.

Oh and my favourite scene? just has to be Daisy's 15th birthday and old video footage. I found myself grinning inanely while crying at the same time - joy!

Saving Daisy is YA but I recommend anyone who is a people-watcher, interested in psychology, likes drama and tension or has no fear of confronting the darker side of life pick up a copy for yourself. You won't be bored.
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on 22 January 2012
'Saving Daisy' is an emotionally charged and powerful read from the British author of 'Being Billy'. Be warned now that you'll need to have a box of tissues beside you while you're reading this book because it will rip your heart out.

Phil Earle's writing is unflinchingly honest. He's not afraid to tackle difficult or emotive topics such as death and bereavement, rape, bullying, drinking and other such issues. His background as a care worker is obvious here when reading about the main character Daisy and the experiences she goes through. He writes sensitively about her and her issues, whilst also portraying a realistic view of life in a therapeutic community for teenagers. I thought the relationship she had with her key worker Ade was one of great trust. It was obvious that not only did Ade care deeply about Daisy and her road to recovery but it was touching to see how much Daisy came to value Ade's friendship by the end of the book.

Some parts of the story made for difficult reading and it was hard at times to see how much Daisy blamed herself for not only her mother's death but also for many of the things that happen to her. Trying to correct the way she thinks about herself and establish a more positive outlook for the future is one of the struggles that she has to face.

I found the ending and overall message of the book to be full of hope, showing that there's always a way through the pain for everyone, no matter how bleak a person's future can look and no matter what someone has had to go through. 'Saving Daisy' is not a light read but it's one that will stay with you long after turning the last page. It's heartbreaking at times and will take you on an emotional rollercoaster of a ride but it's worth every second and is a book I would definitely recommend to others.
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on 7 March 2012
Daisy is 14 years old and is not coping with her mother's death daisy blames herself for it. Over the coming weeks, she finds herself having panic attacks and using self-harming to clear her head and stop the attacks. Daisy's dad will not open up and talk to her so daisy is left feeling alone. A mix of heart braking events leave daisy fatherless and broken inside. Unable to open up and talk about what's going on Daisy is moved onto a place that will help her cope but will daisy open up and trust the people that are they to help.

My review I really don't know how to start with this- this is not my normal sort of read, and I guess I'll start by saying... This book was a look into a life that many young children and teens have to live with each day. I found it hard to think of this book as a work of fiction because it was more like a true look into so many lives. The sad fact is lots of kids have terrible lives.

Daisy's story opens the reader into a life that is cracking open with guilt and self-harming. Daisy is drowning in her despair, and the world around her does not seem to notice. I found that I soon cared for Daisy like I would my own children.

At times, there is so much pain and despair that you feel like daisy will never get out of this darkness that seems to have taken over her life for so long. I guess the point of this book is simple to me know don't give up while sometime life seems so bad, but you need to fight for that light at the end of the tunnel that is there if you look hard enough. I also felt that the author was trying to make people aware of the true darkness and pain in real life. It's easy to over look the homeless kids and kids in care when your life is simple but stop and read saving daisy it will open your eyes to the stuff that sometimes goes on behind closed doors.

Saving Daisy is a must read. A brilliantly written book that is more fact then fiction about the true horrors of life and the uplifting realisation that there is always hope. This book had more emotion then any I have read before.
5 stars
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on 18 January 2012
I cried, I laughed, I loved, I grieved. Saving Daisy was an emotional roller-coaster - one I adored and was sad to leave. Or, more precisely, I was heartbroken to leave Daisy: I really, really loved her and Ade too.
Daisy never knew her Mum. Her Dad won't - can't - talk about her. In Daisy's eyes, it was her fault.
As the fear, the misplaced guilt over her Mum's death gets stronger and stronger; her ways of coping become violent, extreme. But the one person she decides to trust does something they shouldn't have, and once more Daisy tells herself she's to blame. Her life spirals out of control, and before she knows it, Daisy is all alone.
She doesn't want help, doesn't think she deserves it. She's bad luck in her eyes: everyone she lets in gets hurt or hurts her. But can the kindness of a single stranger, one who is desperate to help, be enough to bring her back from brink. Will Daisy Houghton even let herself be saved?
I love contemp books, especially ones that made me think, feel and (although I don't know why I like it so much) cry. Saving Daisy made me do all three of these things and more. I loved every moment, wrapped up in Daisy's world, her fears. I was so completely addicted from start to finish, unable to put the book down, desperate to know what happened to Daisy... By the end I desperately wanted to read the whole book all over again, and I need Being Billy.
Daisy Houghton was a wonderful girl: snarkily funny, film-addicted, clever... She was also drowning in her fear and guilt. I loved her from the word go, constantly telling her "It's not your fault Daisy!" She was so scared, betrayed by the ones she let it, always on the edge of everything. To begin with I thought her guilt was ridiculous, but in her mind, she really thought she was responsible. I felt so bad for her because I loved her so much. She was just so strong, so stubborn and she had to grow up so fast. I loved it when we got to see the sweet, grieving side of Daisy, rather than the guilt-ridden, self-blaming one. She was so real to me: it felt like I was the only one she trusted...
Ade, Daisy's key-worker, was lovely! The moment she walked in, she made Daisy feel better, like she was "being saved", and made me smile. She really looked out for Daisy, was really smart, laidback, instructive without being bossy... She was just so strong, and really understood Daisy and I loved her so much!
Bellfield, the place Daisy was sent to "find the answer" was amazing: You had so many different characters... The overly friendly, sweet Susie, who didn't really understand personal space. The argumentative, snarky, slightly violent Patrick. The constantly texting, perhaps-perhaps-not delusional, laidback Jimmy, who couldn't quite tell the difference between fantasy and reality. The moody, short-tempered, irrational, unpredictable Naomi. The various careers: young, laid-back Floss; efficient, friendly, respected-by-all Bex; the lovely, kind, patient Ade. All the different personalities made for a chaotic, volatile, never-dull place. My favourite was by far Jimmy (Ade not included): I loved Jimmy-style therapy: watching washing machines - "sweet"! You definitely have the "X-Factor" Jimmy!
The writing was amazing. It was raw, emotional, powerful, addictive. It was teenager, but the voice of a teenager who knows too much. It was Daisy. 100%. I adored the descriptions, brilliant but not too heavy. I just loved the edginess, everything. I just loved Earle's writing. Enough said!
I thought the plot would be straight forward from the blurb. Boy was I wrong! There were twists I never saw coming, plot turns I never would have thought of, character changes that surprised me. I loved every turn, every unpredictable development. I was completely hooked from start to finish.
What struck me straight away about Saving Daisy were the emotions. Instantly, I was tangled in Daisy's head, not exactly sure where my emotions stopped and hers began. It felt like I was drowning in Daisy's feelings, in my own. It was overwhelming, in the very best way. I was so wrapped up in the book, in Daisy: invested. It was a roller coaster of emotions, the main ones pain, sadness, grief, love and sympathy. I was almost constantly on the verge of tears, so the little bright spots, the small breakthroughs, the parts that made me smile, were even more potent. But in some probably twisted way, I loved crying, the constant battling emotions. Crying meant I adored this book and its characters and truly cared about what happened to them. Because I did.
A heartbroken, guilt-ridden, scarred heroine, afraid to trust or love, a caring, always smiling care worker, with a secret of her own, and the hardest journey of all: facing your fears, you guilt and realising it wasn't your fault, putting yourself back together... Saving Daisy was an emotional, powerful read that left my head spinning. I won't forget you Daisy. Not in a long time.
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on 11 June 2012
I read Saving Daisy by Phil Earle at the start of the year and I've found it very difficult between then and now to put how I felt about the book into words. Reading this book felt like such an emotional experience. My heart absolutely ached for poor Daisy, who goes through such terrible things throughout this novel, but I'm really happy to have ended the book smiling through my tears, as this book is also filled with such hope.

We first meet Daisy in Phil Earle's previous novel, Being Billy. But Daisy's story begins before she meets Billy so it isn't necessary to read one before the other, though I definitely do recommend both.

I really loved Daisy right from the start, there was something about her that I could easily relate to. She's never really known her mother, and she lives with her father, who while doing the best he can, can't really speak about Daisy's mother. That pain and grief seems to be too close to the surface still, and it's as if Daisy takes those feelings and makes them her own. She blames herself for her mother's death and that guilt is eating up at her from the inside leading her towards anxiety and depression and self-harm. Added to her guilt, Daisy's vulnerability attracts unwanted attention and sets off a terrible set of circumstances that find Daisy alone and in the care of a therapeutic community. With the help of Daisy's key worker, Adebayo, she is able to take those first steps towards letting go of her guilt and fears as Adebayo assures Daisy that it isn't her fault the things that have happened.

I do so love Daisy. I thought her relationship with her father to be quite sweet, especially their love of movies that they shared. I wanted the best for Daisy, for her to be happy and to believe that she deserves love and happiness, even after the horrible things she's been through. I felt so many things while reading this book, sadness and grief mostly. But while Saving Daisy isn't the easiest book to read in many ways, the emotion that has stuck with me after so many months, is the shining ray of hope and love in the form of Adebayo. This book is both devastating and beautiful to read and I can highly recommend it!
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on 15 January 2012
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.
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on 23 January 2012
Phil Earle is not an author to hold back. When he writes, he takes hold of real issues that affect teenagers and thrusts them into awareness. Saving Daisy is a gut wrenching, gritty realistic read that pulls no punches. Phil writes about real life issues we try and forget exist.

Saving Daisy is a companion novel to Being Billy, which I really enjoyed reading last year. With Phil's books you feel bad, saying you enjoyed them because they deal with children in care who suffer, but Phil really brings his characters to life, so that you feel like you know them so well and you are cheering them from the sideline to be one of the children who survive the system and come out winning.

I loved Daisy even more that Being Billy, it was so nice to see her journey before she reached Billy's world. This girl really suffered from guilt and had to learn that the events of her life were not her fault, she was just one of the unlucky ones who found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. On reflection after reading the book, I wondered how many children in the world live with a similar guilt, who feel responsible for the death of their parents, when in reality it wasn't their fault. Phil really expresses and explores Daisy's life in detail and you feel privileged to be able to watch her journey of survival. I was extremely impressed by Phil's ability to write from a female perspective, something which I felt he captured accurately. I actually felt like I was in Daisy's head. I could see everything from her point of view and understood completely where she was coming from.

This book covers many issues that children in care often face, including self harming and adults grooming children. In this story, Daisy has an encounter with one of the supply teachers which made me feel quite sick. The way adults can manipulate children like this to thinking it is their fault and how bad it would be to them if it all came out, really kicks me the gut. This is one area where I find so difficult to read about, but it seems so much more common than we realise. Self harming is an issue that I have never really understood, however this book made it all so much clearer to understand.

After finishing and reflecting about Saving Daisy, I now feel the need to go back and reread Being Billy, to remind myself how well Daisy turned out in the end. She really is such a strong character who heroically comes back from the brink of depression to see that life is actually worth living, with the help of Ade,. Daisy combats her demons, which would send most sane adults on the road to insanity. Ade is an exceptional character in this book and makes key workers look brilliant. Without her help, I am not sure whether Daisy would have been able to come back.

Saving Daisy broke my heart and opened my eyes. It made me think and stayed with me long after I had finished reading it. Within just two books, you can see how much Phil has progressed as a writer. I will be first in the queue for his third book. A very real, gritty book that all teenagers should read.
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VINE VOICEon 25 October 2013
14-year-old Daisy is a self-harmer. Cutting her arms is the only way she can stem the panic attacks that comes from the certainty that she killed her mum. Her dad refuses to talk about it, preferring to indulge Daisy in her love of cinema and particularly the movie THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. But Daisy needs to talk to someone and when that leads to tragic consequences, she ends up in Bellfield, a residential facility where the care workers, led by Ade, try to save her.

But Daisy isn't sure that she deserves to be saved ...

Phil Earle's second YA novel is a companion book to the critically acclaimed BEING BILLY and, given that it focuses on one of the characters in that book, I'd been hoping for another powerful contemporary tale that shines a light on real teen issues. What I found was a soapier beast and that's because Daisy's problems, although serious, are essentially passive. She's not someone who drives events, even though she blames herself for them. The tremendous guilt and anxiety she feels makes her passive and reactive and her inability to stand up for herself even when bullied frustrated me (even though I acknowledge it's true to life). I also found the internal monologues a little repetitive and when her therapy worker, Ade starts talking about the application of logic, I wish it had come sooner. It's a very worthy book and I think there's a lot here that could help teens struggling with self-harm, but (and I feel bad for saying this) it didn't make for an interesting read for me and I found myself skimming the pages. It's an okay read but not as good as BEING BILLY.

Earle gives Daisy a believable voice and I understood why she sees self-harm as a way of controlling her anxiety attacks but her friendship with Ade didn't really convince, partly because Ade's given mannered dialogue that I found difficult to engage with and partly because she disappears at those points when she's most needed. The self-destructive Naomi could have been fascinating but with limited page time, she's two dimensional at best, while the other Bellfield characters are little more than names on the page.

The events that happen to Daisy are a little soap opera at times and the ending's too melodramatic for me. It's an okay book but not as good as Earle's first.
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VINE VOICEon 22 January 2012
Fourteen-year-old Daisy tries to blend in as much as possible so she doesn't draw attention to herself. She blames herself for her mum's death and sometimes she thinks her dad blames her too. Daisy has her own way of dealing with this. She has to release the panic by cutting herself. If that wasn't enough to cope with, another tragedy leaves Daisy orphaned and full of guilt. She needs help and there's one person struggled to do so. But Daisy can't be saved until she's ready.

The main thing I loved about this book and Earle's previous book, Being Billy, is the realism. Not shy of jumping right into very real problems that teens struggle to cope with, the author deals with them brilliantly. The characters are real and gritty, doing things that teens do but probably shouldn't; neither glamourising nor condemning them. Smoking and drinking are easy ways for the teens to deal, or at least block out, their issues. There's no preachiness but a clear 'this is what could happen' message that goes with the characters' actions.

While by no means a fun read, owing to the nature of the story, it's most certainly an interesting and emotional one which is hard to put down once you've started. You really start to care for Daisy at an early point in the book and the pages keep turning as you feel a need to find out what happens to her. A highly recommended read.
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on 27 March 2012
I've been telling anyone who'd listen to me about how good 'Being Billy' is since reading it last year, but have been blown away that Phil Earle has managed to write an equally captivating prequel, of sorts, to his first novel. In 'Saving Daisy', he manages extremely well to draw readers inside the mind of troubled teen, Daisy, and her story unfolds in a heart-breaking, edge of your seat kind of way. I read it in two days because I couldn't put it down and there were tears twice along the way!

As a teacher, I think these books are excellent for reading with or recommending to young people... very engaging and honestly written. I hope we'll be reading more of Phil Earle's work in the years to come!
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