FeaturedYoung Adult

Kissing Daisy Parker

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“Kissing Daisy Parker” packs a judo kick of laughter, infatuation and naivety that will have readers as engrossed as their video games.

Synopsis

First loves. Last chances. Street Fighter II.

Daisy is a Sylvia Plath reading, Robert Smith devotee, planning on a summer of Australian beaches with or without her two favourite boys.

Obsessed gamer and jealous boyfriend Greg needs the prize money from the Scottish Street Fighter II championships to join Daisy in Oz. She wouldn’t really go without him. Would she?

Scottish-born, English-accented Junaid is the couple’s best friend. Haunted by that school dance and terrified of the future, he finds himself falling for his best friend’s girl. When a disastrous event at the video game tournament brings Daisy and J closer together, Greg attempts the ultimate redemption.

Each makes decisions which alter the course of their friendship, and their lives, forever. But do the answers to life’s biggest questions truly lie in kissing Daisy Parker?

This coming-of-age young adult novel has the heart of Aristotle and Dante (Benjamin Alire Sáenz), the spirit of Looking for Alaska (John Green) and the punch of Street Fighter II (Super Nintendo).

In their 1996 hit song, Itzsoweezee, rappers De La Soul sang of love being nothing but emotion and game. 


In Michael Milton’s new young adult novel, “Kissing Daisy Parker,” a book centering on young love and video games, it’s not so easy. And when you’re 18, immature and something’s hard, you don’t face it like an adult would just yet, despite reaching the voting age and being able to own a provisional license. You retreat. And for Scottish pals Greg and Junaid it’s in the fantastic, distracting realm of video games that they find solace from this thing called growing up. Because, let’s face it. When you’re that age, life is just more interesting that way when you’re only in transit towards becoming an adult and thus reluctant to give them up. 


“I think about it sometimes,” says the book’s protagonist Gregor. “That I’ve clung to games for fear of what lies beyond them.”


In between trying to come to terms with becoming an adult and clinging to their adolescence, the three friends which take turns narrating, go back and kiss and tell stories of their first so-called rites of passage into adulthood: creeping out after midnight for their hook-ups with the pretty girls at the summer camp and their drama-fueled nights at the disco. 


In his captivating, powerful, and hilariously written novel, Milton takes his target audience — Generation Z readers — back in time to the early 1990s to demonstrate how technology shaped Milennials who came of age during that time, and illustrates the pleasurable affect video games had on young people as a kind of escape from their navigation through life. 


In the meantime, Junaid and Greg, both admirers of Daisy — a somber literature loving devotee of ‘80s goth sensation The Cure — use dress-up to morph into their favorite video game characters to snag the coveted Scottish Street Fighter 2 Championship trophy. The book’s concept inevitably harkens back to the 2010 action/romance “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.”


When world travel forces the characters in separate directions, it presents growth opportunities that propel them to ascertain love’s true meaning, which they learn is not defined by the endearing quirks that originally drew them in:


“Sometimes the things you love about somebody are the things that end up pushing you away from them.” 


“Kissing Daisy Parker” packs a judo kick of laughter, infatuation and naivety that will have readers as connected and engrossed as they would their cherished video games. 


Reviewed by

A seasoned journalist and editor, I've written for the weekly division of the North Jersey Media Group covering municipal government to arts and entertainment. Currently, I serve as the editor of DiningOut New Jersey Magazine and a correspondent with TAPinto.net.

Synopsis

First loves. Last chances. Street Fighter II.

Daisy is a Sylvia Plath reading, Robert Smith devotee, planning on a summer of Australian beaches with or without her two favourite boys.

Obsessed gamer and jealous boyfriend Greg needs the prize money from the Scottish Street Fighter II championships to join Daisy in Oz. She wouldn’t really go without him. Would she?

Scottish-born, English-accented Junaid is the couple’s best friend. Haunted by that school dance and terrified of the future, he finds himself falling for his best friend’s girl. When a disastrous event at the video game tournament brings Daisy and J closer together, Greg attempts the ultimate redemption.

Each makes decisions which alter the course of their friendship, and their lives, forever. But do the answers to life’s biggest questions truly lie in kissing Daisy Parker?

This coming-of-age young adult novel has the heart of Aristotle and Dante (Benjamin Alire Sáenz), the spirit of Looking for Alaska (John Green) and the punch of Street Fighter II (Super Nintendo).

TRACK 1: Object

DAISY: First, they snap your jaw. Then they shave your bones and bolt metal plates into your face. Your head puffs up to three times its normal size, and the bruises make you look like you’ve boxed twelve rounds with Iron Mike Tyson. It hurts. You scream when the packing comes out of your nose. Oh, and there’s the chance that the snapping, shaving and bolting of surgery won’t work. Psychological support? Zero. Nobody to help you process looking in the mirror at a totally different person. You were on a waiting list for months, in braces for two and a half years, and knew all along that this was coming. But nothing can prepare you. After seventeen years of looking at it in the mirror, the face on that person called “you” is gone.

Would I recommend it?

Definitely.

My profile’s no longer a waning crescent moon, my thin nose has widened, and my bottom teeth finally sit behind the top. My new jawline means no more:

“Daisy’s chin is so big it has its own postcode.”

No more:

“When Daisy entered the Big Chin Olympics they said ‘sorry, no professionals’.”

No more:

“When Daisy fell and her chin hit the ground, I didn’t laugh, but the pavement cracked up.”

Double jaw surgery for a class three underbite is no fairytale. But it’s better than going through life hearing every “yo momma” joke turned into a “Daisy’s chin” joke. I do look better; pretty, even. I never thought I cared about that stuff. Turns out I do.

Eight months on and my face is still adjusting to its new shape, going through subtle changes week to week. People focus on the aesthetics, but I’m still retraining my jaw muscles. I thought that once my bottom teeth sat behind the top, I’d be able to indulge my sense of taste. Nope. I’ve actually lost a chunk of weight ‘cause I can’t be bothered chewing food. I can crunch into an apple for the first time in my life, but don’t expect me to finish the thing. It’s too much work. Another side effect is a permanent numbness in the lower left part of my face (heightening my ever-so-ladylike habit of sleep-drooling). You wouldn’t notice it though, even now I’ve told you it’s there.

Is it weird?

I suppose so, but my entire head’s a different shape, so everything feels weird. I’ve got used to the numbness the same way I’ve got used to everything else. To eating and drinking and brushing my teeth.

Kissing?

Well, that’s flipped on its head. To be honest, the new Daisy isn’t used to kissing the old Greg, but between you and me, that’s got nothing to do with my jawline.


JUNAID: Destroy the image, and you will break the enemy.

Bruce Lee, claw marks across his face and torso, stalks the evil Mr Han in the room of mirrors. Mirrors which play tricks on the senses. Mirrors which make their epic fight as much a battle of wits as it is of physical prowess. But when those words of wisdom come to him, Bruce knows what to do. He smashes the mirrors one by one, allowing him, finally, to defeat his nemesis. Delivering his patented running side kick, Bruce impales Mr Han on a spear and saves the day. The immortal scene comes from Enter the Dragon, the film that made Bruce a global superstar.

I re-enact it in my bathroom.

First, I touch my toothpaste “claw marks” and taste my own “blood”. Next, I deliver (fake) blows to the cabinet doors and the shaving mirror above the sink. Then I’m on the landing, and I Bruce-Lee-running-side-kick a pillow I’ve stuck in the laundry basket.

‘WWAAAAZZZAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!’

I first watched Enter the Dragon on the 24th of April 1986. I remember because it was my tenth birthday. Eight years later, I’m officially an adult. Supposedly a man. But I’m still kung-fu kicking pillows with toothpaste on my chest. Usually, it’s “Mr Han” who flies to his death against my bedroom door. But it’s not Mr Han I kick today; it’s Greg. I boot my best friend from one side of the landing to the other, because Daisy is all I can think about since she became, you know…sexy. I never thought I cared about appearances. Turns out I do.

In the shower, I daydream about the upcoming summer in Australia, a trip to celebrate Daisy’s eighteenth and the end of school forever. I imagine Greg being eaten by a crocodile in the wilderness, leaving Daize and me mourning together in a log cabin. The outback’s so hot that we grieve in our underwear, and there’s only so long we can wait before touching each other’s sticky bodies…

I wash my guilt down the plughole with the toothpaste. And, having just fantasised about his crocodiley demise, I need to look Greg in the eye at the bus stop.

Happy Birthday, Junaid.


GREGOR: I take it you’ve heard about Daisy’s jaw? I can tell by the look on J’s face that he’s mentioned it. No doubt he said how my cute little underbiter now looks like the cover of Vogue magazine. It was months ago, but everyone at school still goes on and on about how great she looks. “Ooooh, I can’t believe the difference” and “she looks like a new person” and “I can’t stop looking at her” and blah blah blah. Dickbags. Half of these people didn’t even speak to her before the operation. If I’d a penny for every ugly duckling to beautiful swan reference, I’d have enough cash to fly us all to Oz and back. I never thought I’d care about the effects of the surgery. Turns out I do.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, who doesn’t want their ugly duckling to turn into a beautiful swan? But here’s the thing: Daize was always a swan to me. So those ugly duckling comments are offensive. I’ve told Daisy this, and she says it’s “sweet”. Sweet! Is it sweet that she gets sex-eyed by everyone whose path we cross? Guys staring in the corridors, girls lingering in the changing rooms, Miss Dupont the French teacher ogling in the canteen. Worst of all, is it sweet that my best pal looks at her that way? Aye, Junaid Jarvis, that means you. Sat next to me on the bus, gibbering about how he woke up early to watch the mirror scene from Enter the Dragon. As if he wasn’t actually fantasising about my girlfriend. J, who called Daisy “Judge Dredd” when we first got together, because her chin was such a “feature”. Is that sweet? Is it?

I didn’t ask for this. This is not part of the Master Plan. How am I supposed to practise for the Scottish Street Fighter II Championships when I’m too busy looking over my shoulder for Don Juans? Duckling to swan is one thing, but let me ask you this: who wants their perfectly-formed beautiful swan to turn into a cover model?

Nobody. That’s who.

About the author

Michael Milton spent the first 25 years of his life pretending to be other people. After switching drama school for university, he lived and worked in East Asia before settling down in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Kissing Daisy Parker is his first novel, and yes, he can beat you at Street Fighter. view profile

Published on July 21, 2020

Published by

60000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Young Adult

Reviewed by

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