Scarlett Blaine’s life in 1960s Georgia isn’t always easy, especially given her parents’ financial struggles and the fights surrounding her sister Juli’s hippie lifestyle. Then there’s her brother, Cliff. While Scarlett loves him more than anything, there’s no denying his unique behavior leaves Cliff misunderstood and left out. So when he wishes for a rocket to Jupiter, Scarlett agrees to make it happen, no matter how crazy the idea might be. Raising the rocket money means baking pies, and the farmer’s son, Frank, agrees to provide the peaches if Scarlett will help him talk to Juli. The problem is, Scarlett really enjoys her time with Frank, and finds herself wondering if, someday, they could be more than friends. Just as she thinks everything might be going her way, Cliff suffers an accident that not only affects the rocket plans, but shakes Scarlett’s view of God. As the summer comes to an end, Scarlett must find a way to regain what she’s lost, but also fulfill a promise to launch her brother’s dream.
Rachel Coker is a sixteen-year-old home school student and award-winning author who resides in Virginia with her parents and two sisters. Her gift for writing became apparent at the age of eleven through a simple fiction writing assignment in school. She signed with Zondervan in 2010, resulting in the publication of her YA fiction novel, Interrupted, in March 2012. Chasing Jupiter is her second book.
Did you read the short bio of this author? If you did not, go back and do it now! Rachel Coker is young, really young. Yet she writes with a maturity, both in subject matter and in style that belies her age. Chasing Jupiter was not what I expected. Sure, I read the praise for her first novel, saw Publisher’s Weekly‘s admonishment that she was an author to watch, but I did not foresee that talent that Rachel Coker has been blessed with. Chasing Jupiter is a great novel, and I cannot wait to see what else Coker has for us in the future.
Chasing Jupiter is a character driven story, and they will win your heart. Scarlett is the middle child in a family that is falling apart. The story is narrated by her, and we are privy to all her dreams, fears and anxieties. Scarlett’s 10 year old brother, Cliff, has something wrong with him — he is quirky, obsessive, and fixated on the Spanish Civil War. Oh, and he also wants to be the first person on Jupiter. Grandpop Barley is struggling with dementia — insisting on wearing the same red tie every day and eating as much peanut butter as he can hold. Add to the mix an older sister with serious hippy tendancies, an overworked mother and a father who spends their spare cash on political causes, and you have a family in need. Scarlett puts herself in the role of saving her family, taking on the care and feeding of the clan as well as baking pies to fund the rocket for Cliff’s Jupiter dreams.
There are heartaches and heartbreaks in Chasing Jupiter, but Coker infuses the novel with hope. Scarlett finds her way to the peace that she so desperately seeks. This novel is categorized as Young Adult and is perfect for those in High School and up. I think the novel would be perfect for a mother-daughter book club. And the setting of the summer of 1969 is a perfect starting place for discussions on what it was like when mothers were teenagers.
(I received Chasing Jupiter from DJCCommunications in return for an honest review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)
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