Does Summer’s Rock n’ Roll Novel Deliver a Hit?

Grab a cool beverage on this hot summer day and settle in, because Snotty Literati is dishing on one of the summer’s most talked about novels, Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Coming off her massive hit, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Reid would seem to be an overnight success—but DJ&TS is actually her seventh book. And it’s being turned into a web-based miniseries by celebrity book clubber, as well as actress and producer, Reese Witherspoon. Is it worth the hype?

Lara: What a fun and engaging read! Daisy & Co. are the perfect group of rock and roll drama llamas to spy on during our endlessly hot summer days. It’s a soap opera of a novel set well before the #MeToo movement, with rockers signing women’s chests, engaging in reckless drug use, and giving a lot of nods to Fleetwood Mac. It was a romp. I enjoyed it. What did you think?

Jennifer: Okay, so I will be the downer. Lara asked if I were going to pan it, and I said I wouldn’t. I’ll try not to be a total party-pooper. Hear me out. I was excited to read this, really excited. I’m seriously a rock n’ roll girl—and I approached it from that standpoint (not as a great big literary snob). I love rock n’ roll, crazy rock memoirs, seventies rock, eighties rock, nineties rock, and Fleetwood Mac. I own a silly amount of literature on U2. I even read Rick Springfield’s memoir and novel. (I couldn’t tell you a thing about music today. I like Vance Joy. Florence and the Machine?)

But I was disappointed by this. It seemed like a collection of rock n’ roll clichés—not super complex. A nice story that one has probably heard better elsewhere . . .

I’m sure you’ve got things to say!

Lara: Of course I do! I will start by saying my only history of how rock n’ rollers behave is through stories in books and other media. I have always viewed them (not all of them obviously) as partiers, living super-indulgently and likely dangerously, full of angst and drama. It almost seems necessary to be lit up to be able to live that kind of life… and I thought she captured that well. Maybe not as darkly as it likely would have been. But it had a realistic flavor while being totally readable.

Jennifer: I actually think—and hear this in the right way—this book is more for you than it is for me. This is a great read for those who’d like to dip into this world for a quick spin. It’s not for the hardcore Stevie Nicks’ fan who nearly weeps every time she hears “Edge of Seventeen.” I know I keep bringing up Nicks—and I’m not sure this is actually a documented fact (that the book is based on Stevie). I know that, as I read, I was like, “This is a Fleetwood Mac rip-off!” And then I looked it up on the web, and, like, a million people had already thought my profound thought . . .

So what might make this less clichéd, more nuanced? Give me the plight of the artist, the self-doubt coupled with the arrogance (not just the arrogance). Give me the desire for love and commitment coupled with abject failure to stay true (not just one or the other). Camila is too perfect. Daisy is too sexy. Eddie is the guy that no one notices. Karen is the one we relate to. Simone is the good, black friend (seriously). Graham is the nice one who accepts his fate. Billy has his demons, but a beautiful soul.

Lordy, did I just pan it? Are you mad at me?

Lara: You are being a bit harsh. Most readers will enjoy this. Even ones who almost cry when “Edge of Seventeen” blares through her speakers (maybe you are the drama llama!). I have to take a detour because you have listed off characters and no one knows what’s going on.

So there’s this rock band called The Six. It’s fronted by Billy Dunne. His brother, Graham, is in the band. Other members included Karen on keyboards, Eddie on rhythm guitar, and Warren on drums (and there’s Pete). Daisy is an up-and-comer who is also on their same label. The Six’s manager convinces Billy to do a duet with Daisy, and what starts as a duet turns into Daisy joining the band for a full album. There’s ego, and there are creative clashes. There’s Billy’s struggle with sobriety, and there’s his trusting wife at home. Eddie is a Bitter Betty who hates how much say and control Billy has. Warren signs women’s chests (remember, it’s the seventies). And then there is Daisy and her full-on face plant into the drug scene. Complicating matters is the sexual tension she and Billy have (which IS predictable).

So to answer your question about depth and layers . . . I loved the struggle Billy had with his sobriety. I loved that his desire to stay clean was a constant theme—and that he actually thought about it and the repercussions. I loved that his wife, Camila, knew things might happen while Billy was on the road, but she chose to trust. She chose it every day. I love that she fought for her marriage—and Billy did too.

“How could I be around Daisy Jones and not be mesmerized by her? Not fall in love with her?

I couldn’t.

I just couldn’t.

But Camila meant more. That’s just the very deepest truth. My family meant more to me. Camila meant more to me. Maybe for a little while there, Camila wasn’t the person I was most drawn to.

Or . . .

. . .

. . .

. . .

Maybe Camila wasn’t the person I was most in love with. At that time. I don’t know. You can’t . . . Maybe she wasn’t. But she was always the person I loved the most. She was always the person I would choose.”

I think I fell for the book’s love stories (and there were a few). I want to believe that real life people like Jon Bon Jovi have had unimaginable temptations and that guys like him always choose Dorothea.

Jennifer: Those are good quotes, and long live Jon Bon Jovi and Dorothea! (And Bono and Ali!)

I’ll give you that, and this:

“Music is never about music. If it was, we’d be writing songs about guitars. But we don’t. We write songs about women.”

That’s pretty good.

So, let me just say this. I listened to two things to “prep” for this (three, if you count Fleetwood Mac’s The Dance): The Wild Heart of Stevie Nicks by Rob Sheffield, and “Evidence of the Affair” by Jenkins—a long short story on kindle and audible. I want to bring this up because Sheffield is a great rock n’ roll writer, and I tried with Jenkins. I did try.

A plug for Sheffield: I loved his writing in this, and his own gushing fandom. Plus, I think he captures that super unique weirdness between Stevie and Lindsey Buckingham (who have known each other since high school).

If you would like some great books on rock, try these:

Love is a Mix Tape – Rob Sheffield (nonfiction)
Talking to Girls About Duran Duran – Rob Sheffield (nonfiction)
Just Kids – Patti Smith (5 star, nonfiction)
Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen (a tad long-winded, nonfiction)
Stone Arabia – Dana Spiotta (fiction)

As for “Evidence of the Affair,” I guess it’s just not my thing.

Say something positive, Lara.

 Lara: I am not saying it’s the best book ever written on rock n’ roll. I am saying it’s a readable and enjoyable story. Reese Witherspoon picked it for her book club and is turning it into a web-based series, for goodness sake!

Let’s talk about the structure. It’s told in an interview format, like you are reading a super long Rolling Stone interview or a fireside chat (for six hours). It took me a little bit to get into the characters and the groove (pun intended) of the format; but once I was in, it was a fast read.

Hey! Listen to that! Fleetwood Mac’s “Over My Head” being pumped through the speakers here at Panera Bread—can’t get any more rock n’ roll than that (she says with a smirk).

What did you think of the format?

Jennifer:  I liked that! It worked! (I listened to the audio, and it was pretty impressive.) I felt like there were enough cues present for me to follow the different trains of thought. I also did like how the author flirted with unreliability in the narrators. Sometimes, characters told different stories about the same event. I liked that . . .

Lara: The different takes on the same event were very good—and realistic. We all have our own truth about what we experience. My truth is that this is the perfect summer read. Yours, not so much.

And that’s okay. I am okay with you being wrong this time.

Jennifer: Would you discuss a few books you’ve read since we last met that we might want to note? I loved the graphic novel, El Deafo, by Cece Bell. It was my kids’ book, but I had heard a lot of praise for it—and it’s all warranted. I read the collection of novellas by Rob Davidson called What Some Would Call Lies. Davidson’s cultural milieu and wit felt aligned with my own. I thought Gary Shteyngart’s Absurdistan had these dazzling moments in it. I’m still not sure how I felt about the last third, but he’s a great writer.

Lara: El Deafo is such a delight. I am glad you picked it up. I read/listened to four books since we last met. My favorite of the four is Julia Phillips stunning debut, Disappearing Earth. The last pages had me holding my breath. I literally had to come up for air when it ended. I listened to two audiobooks, Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead and Lori Gottlieb’s Memoir Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed. Both were super interesting. Lastly, I also read a graphic novel, My Boyfriend Is a Bear, by Pamela Ribbon. The protagonist is dating an actual bear. It’s hilarious and heartwarming and a tiny bit snarky with lovely illustrations. It’s worth a look.

Next Up!

We are totally judging our next book by its stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks gorgeous cover. Join us in August when we talk about The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray.

Until then, happy reading Snotties!


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Want to read more from Jennifer? Check her out at and her latest book: And So We Die, Having First SleptYou can get it on Amazon right here

Want to see what Lara is up to? Go to