As the Daisies Bloom
Was it a chance meeting in the Daisy Cafe that brought a father and his boys from Macon, Georgia, descendants of slaves, into the life of a descendent of Swiss Mennonites, or was it the mysterious workings of the father’s grandmother, Momma Daisy? August Kibler tells the stories of his own life and the lives of Tyler, Johnny, and Jimmy through the tragedy and grief, and the joy and gratitude, that each discovered along the way.
The generous spirit they share is a gift to any seeking greater understanding when you believe you have little in common. Yet it is through sharing that August discovers a deep reverence for Momma Daisy and Pappy Jemison, and for the legacy of love and mettle that defined their lives. August challenges our certitudes as, in his own life, he says, “I would rather have doubts and be wrong than to be certainly wrong.” Tyler and August bear witness to what might appear to be ordinary lives, yet which both see as nothing less than extraordinary.
Literary Titan – ☆☆☆☆☆
T. P Graf’s As The Daisies Bloom is as enchanting as it is charming. The story is intimately and poetically told. Like a well-written symphony, it has a rhythm and magnetism that is undeniable. It is especially hard not to fall in love with the main character, August.
While it is a work of fiction, this novel gives a heartfelt account of August’s life that is so touching, so authentic, and for lack of a better word so human. It is clear that this character was so thoroughly thought out, his experiences so beautifully brought to life.
Although the book starts with a chance encounter between August and a young family just freshly arrived in town, it ends in an interweaving of lives that we never see coming. The author also does well explaining the details of August’s life before this chance meeting and how the past has spilled into the present in interesting ways.
The fact that this book is written in August’s own voice, even with the accent and all, gives it an authenticity reminiscent of a memoir. What is more captivating though is that the author has managed to use this man’s seemingly simple life to draw attention to serious societal issues.
By easing us into topics like racism, sexism, faith, patriotism, and homophobia, he has personalized them, given them faces, invoking empathy and deep introspection. With neither insults nor judgment, he has made me think deeply about what it means to be human, to love, and to be loved.
Apart from the use of descriptive and almost poetic language, I also love that the author took his time to fully develop the characters in this book. Even though they are described as seen through August’s eyes, I could clearly picture each character. And not just physically, but who they are as a person.
It was clear what each one stood for and what was most important to them; something difficult to fit into 184 pages. Unexpectedly I found myself laughing with the characters and mourning with them, their struggles seeming so real to me somehow.
Reviewed By Grant Leishman for Readers’ Favorite – ☆☆☆☆☆
As The Daisies Bloom: A Novel by T.P. Graf is a tale that explores the synchronicities of life and how there is always a power greater than ourselves guiding and directing us in the best direction, if only we take the time to listen and follow. Two totally disparate individuals find themselves and their families’ lives overlapping and intersecting across time. August Kibler is a retired white man of Swiss descent, set in his ways and in his daily routine now that his husband has passed. Living in the university town of Boone, North Carolina, August takes his daily breakfast at the Daisy Café, where a chance encounter with a young African-American Tyler Jemison and his two young sons will change August’s life forever. This sets both families on a path that seems to have been preordained and directed by Tyler’s wonderful late grandparents, who had raised him in Macon, Georgia; Momma (Daisy) and Pappy Jemison. When Tyler moves to Boone to work as the City Manager, he discovers that not only do he and August have much in common, they were destined to meet and be family for each other in this new town. Similarly, August discovers that the death of his beloved Miles does not mean the end of life for him and that he can learn so much about love, life, and family from this young trio, who come from such a different background to himself.
As The Daisies Bloom by T.P. Graf is one of those stories that just envelop you in the warmth and love of human kindness, goodness, and, most of all, family. The author goes to pains to say that this story is not a memoir, but he is right in his assertion that it certainly does read like one. What appealed to me the most was the overarching theme of the story; that you get back what you put into life and that there is indeed something greater than ourselves, guiding and directing us. The story reminds us that it doesn’t matter what your station in life might be – if you do what you do to the absolute best of your ability, the rewards, be they financial, emotional, or spiritual, will surely come. In some ways, Momma (Daisy) and Pappy read almost as stereotypical southern Black grandparents, and yet the author was skillfully able to give them the ability to rise above that and appear totally real. I particularly enjoyed the passages where Momma allowed her rage to come out and although she was bitterly angry at the government, over her son’s death, she still managed to deal with that anger in a suitable and respectful manner. The writer’s style is easy and flowing and draws the reader intimately into the lives of this unlikely partnership between the old man, his young friend, and the two boys. Few stories can raise a tear in this reader’s eyes, but this story definitely did in places along with many smiles. It was a beautiful telling of life’s trials and tribulations, always overcome by the love of family and of something greater than oneself. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and can highly recommend it.