Here's a description of the book from Zondervan:
"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."
With a heartfelt and heartbreaking look at family, Coker's sophomore novel impressed me even more than her debut release, Interrupted. The setting and plot are unique, the characters' quirks are engaging, and the true-to-life issues are shared in interesting, not-so-common ways.
Scarlett is a heroine whom I often felt I could relate to, with her heart for her family, her uncertainties regarding love, and her struggles with impatience and selfishness. Her story and her growth are enjoyable to watch unfold. Frank, on the other hand, shares a similar "puppy dog" quality with the hero of Interrupted, although I think I do like him better than Sam. His immaturity frustrates me, and his character doesn't really stand out in comparison to some of the other characters who are given more depth (like Grandpop Barley, whose character touched my heart and made it break). However, he is sweet, and his character allows for a bit of romance, which I always enjoy in a book!
I was a bit surprised by how the title of the book and Cliff's (Scarlett's brother's) birthday wish were brought together for the conclusion. Initially, it's hard to imagine how everything could work out... But somehow it does work (although I confess that I'm disappointed by some actions/attitudes that led to a certain horrible event). I am slightly bothered by the focus on the heroine that leaves other characters' stories feeling rather unresolved, but I understand that the reader is limited to Scarlett's perspective because this is supposed to be her story. I guess I just wanted a little more about the whole family in the "epilogue" (of sorts).
All in all, Chasing Jupiter is a story about understanding, sacrifice, tragedies, and hope. It's a story about family, with all of its related fears and fights, as well as its strong bond. A moving read!
*With thanks to DJC Communications and Zondervan for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*