Saturday, May 03, 2014

The Secret Hum of a Daisy, by Tracy Holczer

Grace is used to traveling from place to place with her wandering mom, so when she passes and Grace has to stop, she is worried.  She knows that if she could just stay with Mrs. Greene and Lacey she will be alright.  But that is not the plan.  The plan is that she has to stay with her grandmother.

The problem is, she never met her grandmother before.  In fact, all she knows about her is that she kicked her mom out of the house when she was a teenager and pregnant with Grace.  Grace feels that if her grandmother didn't want her then, how can she possibly want her now?

Once she lands in her mother's hometown, she starts to see signs and find clues that her mother is still with her.  It's just like when she was younger and they would move to a different place -- her mother would send her on a scavenger hunt through the town.  This time, it all starts with an origami crane, stuck in the bushes on Grace's first day of school after the funeral.  "Mama thought birds were signposts sent to let us know we were headed in the right direction.  We'd look for birds on road signs, in murals or billboards, anywhere they might show up.  So I took that bird as a sign of encouragement." (pg. 57)

But is Grace on the right path?  Is trying to make her grandmother angry so she will send her back to Mrs. Greene the right thing to do?  Or should she stay in her mama's town and learn more about her mama, her late father and grandfather and her grandmother as well?  Should Grace give her a chance?

This is less a story of loss than it is a story of finding oneself.  Grace is quiet and thoughtful and is torn apart with her idea of Before mama died and After mama died.  The passing of her mother is fresh (days old at the start) and the reader joins Grace on this journey of trying to do more than simply exist in the After.  The Secret Hum of a Daisy possesses a simplicity that I find refreshing.  There is a poetry to the prose that is as far from flowery as you can get, but manages to land just right.  Several times I had to pause, close the book and just sit in wonder for a moment.  This is one that will simmer with you for a very long time after you read the final words.


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