Book: Chasing Jupiter


About the Book:
Author: Rachel Coker
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: 2012
Genre: Fiction; Young Adult/Teen, Christian
Rating: 4 out of 5

Review: Seventeen-year-old Scarlett Blaine is far from the average young woman. She has undertaken the responsibility of running her household and it’s starting to get to her. Her brother Cliff has never been “normal,” Grandpop Barley is a compulsive peanut butter eater whose mind isn’t what it used to be and her sister Juli has become a free spirit who no longer confides in Scarlett. What’s a girl to do? Cliff’s answer is that Scarlett dreads the idea of growing up. Things are complicated further when Scarlett falls for the guy who is crushing on Juli, her parent’s encounter financial difficulties and Cliff insists on building a rocket to Jupiter… life couldn’t be any crazier, right? It’s not until her whole world is threatened that Scarlett begins to realize she needs more than earthly help.

It puzzles me to no end why I’d never heard of teen novelist Rachel Coker until now. Introduced to her by my wonderful friend, Rosie, I was taken aback at the glowing reviews, forgot about it, and was then offered a copy through DJC Communications - to whom I extend many thanks! Already Rachel has an impressive résumé and if only one word were to describe (as impossible as this is) Rachel’s sophomore novel, it’d be unique. Missing from the story is any hint of a feel-good vibe because its impact is meant to go deeper – to  emotionally touch its reader – than the average teen novel. Unlike the majority of YA fiction, there is no love triangle or flying creatures, just straight-forward, “solid” writing centering what could have otherwise been a story thought too quirky for the happy-ending sort of reader.

Every single one of these characters is quirky albeit memorable in their own way. Cliff is a compulsive kid in nearly everything he does and is hard to “understand” as a result. Favorite parts within these pages include the relationship between the fun (and underused!) character of Mrs. Greene and Scarlett. Shades of the best-selling novel, The Help vividly comes to mind during these portions of the book, bringing thoughts of Minny and Celia’s endearing story into play. There’s a hilarious scene involving a chicken and some great conversations between them. It’s in these moments that Coker’s writing voice is best. Written in the first person, this is unarguably the most mature, well thought-out novel I’ve ever read in this prose. There’s wit and tears in equal measure but the voice of Scarlett is never lost in all that drama. Her struggle is real and relatable to any young person if they’ve ever “gone along” (for the sake of their parents) with the spiritual traditions they’ve been brought up with. Likewise, Scarlett’s transformation of realizing she is not as indestructible as she thinks is heartfelt. The only flaw I found a bit rushed was the “epilogue.” It reads a bit too hurried for my tastes, even though I am a big fan of that “last word,” I prefer it being more fleshed out.

Not only is what is on the inside worth discovering, this cover jacket is stunning! The book is beautifully designed, it's a hardback and the concept is perfection complementing the story in every sense. Written with maturity and appearing on the Christian fiction scene with a fresh voice, Rachel has the makings of a long career with endorsements that are wonderfully favorable. She’s got a knack for story-telling, and if Chasing Jupiter is any indication, she isn’t going to be disappearing from the book shelves of stores anytime soon. It's moving and remarkably poignant. Bravo, Rachel.

Synopsis: 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 thanks to the publisher and DJC Communications for providing a copy of this book for reviewing purposes
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Rissi
18 Comments

18 comments:

  1. I just finished this!!! Such a good story. Reminded me a lot of Wendelin van Draanen's "Flipped"

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    1. Gosh, wasn't it though, Rachel! Such a mature, beautiful story. Rachel is one talented young lady. :)

      Glad you liked it also! Hmm... never read Flipped...

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  2. I finished this book last week...I don't know if it was just PMS but I was crying at the end. A lot. Especially at the rocket scene. *sniffs* This might have been better than Interrupted and is definitely just as good as Interrupted. The chicken scene was so good! This book reminded me a bit of Joan Bauer's books (I've only read two but...) and I was really happy overall with the book. The epilogue was rushed :/ The colors and cover...so beautiful! Oh and now that you mentioned it, it did have some of "The Help" feeling in it. I really want to read the book after watching the movie...just haven't yet :/ Sierra
    Keep growing beautiful!

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    1. That last scene was a moving tearjerker. There was such hope in Scarlett's anticipation and then... nothing. Cliff giving her one last smile was special. So poignant.

      This was the first I'd read by Rachel - she's one talented girl. Her name will certainly be added to the "ones to watch" list as she shows signs of being an author who will be around for a long time. Agree. That "epilogue" was far too rushed. It just seemed... awkward. However, things like the chicken scene (HILARIOUS!) or Scarlett's general attitude make up for any minor flaws.

      Yeah, I started The Help but only made it a few pages in. It was shaping up to be really good, I simply ran out of time prior to seeing the movie at the theater - hope you can get it read also, Sierra.

      Glad to know you liked this book. It was a unique, lovely read. :)

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    2. when he kept smiling at her I was hoping so badly he might come back. But then no :( Poignant. Great word, I'm going to steal that for my review :)

      I have enjoyed both her books and she has really been an inspiration as I am an aspiring homeschooled teen writer! Yes, like I've finished the story let me sum it up real quick now... Definitely does!

      Yes, I really want to read it soon :D I try (if I can) to read the book before the movie and I wish I had usually, if I'm not able to. I'm undecided in this case and probably will be until I get around to reading the book.

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    3. It is an appropriate descriptive word for this book, isn't it, Sierra? There really aren't any "fuzzy, feel-good" moments although I don't resent that in this book. It was meant to look deeper and have an impact. Looking forward to your review. :)

      Oh, gosh! So am I. Whenever I read great success stories like Rachel's, I applaud. Knowing homeschool grads are successful in whatever field they chose earns a big "BRAVO" from me. We get such a bad rap. People think we aren't equipped to "handle" the world. Um, yeah, we kinda are.

      Congrats on your writing aspirations, Sierra! And best of luck. I can relate.

      Cool. Hope you can get 'Help' read. Generally I prefer reading the book first also. Unless it's REALLY good, I won't get through it if I've seen the film. It just doesn't hold up when I know what happens. Hopefully, someday. :)

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    4. For sure there are some sad moments...but it really makes the book.

      Definitely! A nearby highschool didn't even do dissections and didn't do some sort of thing in Geometry that I forgot the name of... The Geometry was AP. And it's supposed to be a good highschool too. A lot of times I can put myself down and worry that I'm nto doing enough & not smart enough compared to public(& etc) school students. But hearing that definitely made me feel better :P Makes me sad that homeschoolers are required to score a lot higher on their SATs than public schooled kids. Doesn't seem fair. That may only be in my state though *taps lip*
      Anyway..that was my rant for today :D

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    5. Yes, it sure does, Sierra! That's the heart of the book.

      Huh! That's interesting info. on your local public high school. It hardly seems fair that homeschoolers have to score higher but then maybe that is just another way, the public tries to make it seem like we aren't intelligent enough. :/ Ah, well. These "officials" don't impress me either... so, I guess we're "even." :)

      Don't mind your "rant" at all! It's always great to see you around here, girl. :)

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  3. Adding it to my list...thanks to you, Rissi, my list is getting very long! Which I do not mind at all. :)

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    1. Cool! Cannot wait to get your thoughts on this one, Kellie. It's so unique. Christian fiction needs that. :)

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  4. wow, that sounds really interesting! I am definitely going to check this out! Also, I just noticed your header has pictures of Save Haven! LOVE! :)
    Juliet
    www.apurplesky.blogspot.com

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    1. It sure is, Juliet! Hope you can read it soon. Let me know what you thought if/when you do. :)

      Thanks! I was happy with this one also. It was simple but I liked it best that way - along with all the pretty shades of blue. :) That movie was SO good.

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  5. So glad you liked this one, Rissi! Glad I could introduce you to Rachel's writing. :-)

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    1. As was I, Rosie! Sure appreciated finding Rachel as a new author. She has such an inspiring story and her writing is impressive to say the least.

      BTW: Meant to tweet you CONGRATS about the video she and her sister's made. What fun to have your review featured. :)

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  6. Well, with such high praise, I certainly think I need to read it. I remember reading great reviews for her first novel, so I have no idea why I haven't read it either. But I just added it to goodreads! Thanks Rissi. :)

    That cover is wow! Definitely one I'd notice if I saw it in the store. Which means I'd have known about this book before now, if I'd gone book shopping recently. There's just no way I'd have bypassed this awesome cover!

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    1. Yes, do read it sometime, Kara. It's really a lovely read. As a happy-ending kinda' girl, generally these books don't appeal to me (not saying the ending isn't good cuz it is), however this one was an excellent, mature read that shows off Rachel's superb talents. :)

      Cannot wait to hear your thoughts if/when you read it. :)

      The cover jacket is gorgeous! The book is hardcover and is even lovelier in person. The designer did an excellent job - and the model is just how I'd picture Scarlett. It'd be hard to ignore on a book shelf. :)

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  7. You had me at "compulsive peanut butter eater." This book sounds so good to me. I will definitely give it a shot.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog!

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    1. Hey, Jennifer! Thanks SO much for the blog follow and comment. It's appreciated and I hope you enjoy your visits. :)

      This is an interesting and fascinating read. Hope you enjoy and thanks for reading! :)

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