Before I get into my review of the book, I want to talk a little about the true event mentioned in the blurb, as it is a subject I’ve previously read about and was amazed that few people are aware of it today.
On March 18, 1937, the deadliest school disaster in American history happened at New London, Texas, when an explosion ripped through the school and killed an estimated 296 students and teachers. Others ultimately wouldn’t survive the injuries they received that day, bringing the death toll to 311.
The cause of the explosion was a natural gas leak—undetected due to its invisible, odorless nature—that ignited when an unsuspecting teacher flipped a switch to turn on a sander. It was this deadly explosion that moved the Texas legislature to mandate the addition of a malodorant, Mercaptan, to natural gas; its unmistakable scent warns of a gas leak. I shudder to think how many more fatal gas explosions might have happened, were it not for the practice of adding a smelly scent, and it astonishes me that so few people are aware of the reason why it’s added, because it’s important to know that it happened because of the terrible loss of lives of the New London school 81 years ago.
Okay, that’s the end of the history lesson. Let’s talk about the book, shall we?
Obviously, the history behind the setting of this story is what first intrigued me about this book. I wanted to see how the stories of the characters in the present day (cousins Katie and Scarlett) would come together with the story set in the past, having to do with their grandmother, Margaret. Not to mention, I wanted to find out if the title, The Daisy Children, had any sort of relevance to the story, or if it was just a nice title. (Without going into any details, the title did prove to have relevance to the story, which I loved!)
I’d be hard-pressed to pick which timeline—past or present—I liked best. Both were enthralling in their own way, and each had events happening that I loved reading about. It was particularly interesting how the after-effects of that long-ago disaster were felt by future generations of the family… whether they realized it or not.
Grant’s writing is superb throughout, weaving together a engrossing story with a foundation—the New London school explosion—that I’ve never before seen used in such a fascinating way.
I think this book will be of particular interest to readers who love historical fiction with a foundation based on actual events—and I have a feeling it will inspire readers to look into the tragedy of the New London school explosion.
About the Book
Inspired by true events, in Sofia Grant’s powerfully moving new novel a young woman peels back the layers of her family’s history, discovering a tragedy in the past that explains so much of the present. This unforgettable story is one of hope, healing, and the discovery of truth
Sometimes the untold stories of the past are the ones we need to hear…
When Katie Garrett gets the unexpected news that she’s received an inheritance from the grandmother she hardly knew, it couldn’t have come at a better time. She flees Boston—and her increasingly estranged husband—and travels to rural Texas.
There, she’s greeted by her distant cousin Scarlett. Friendly, flamboyant, eternally optimistic, Scarlett couldn’t be more different from sensible Katie. And as they begin the task of sorting through their grandmother’s possessions, they 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.
About the Author
Called a “writing machine” by the New York Times and a “master storyteller” by the Midwest Book Review, Sofia Grant has written dozens of novels for adults and teens under the name Sophie Littlefield. She has won Anthony and RT Book Awards and been shortlisted for Edgar®, Barry, Crimespree, Macavity, and Goodreads Choice Awards.