"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

29 June 2015

2015 Book Review #20: Chasing Fireflies

I've just finished another really good book by an author I discovered back in the early spring....I happened to see this title on the town library shelf and thought it was catchy.  It was. It was hard to put this book down each night and get to bed!

Chase Walker doesn't know his real name.  He doesn't know how he came to be a foster child and then adopted by Willie (Liam) McFarland and his wife Lorna. They live in Georgia on land nicknamed "the Zuta" and there's an entire back story about the McFarland clan.  I don't want to go into it here because it would take too long for a book review AND I don't want to ruin the experience for you...there are a lot of suspenseful parts, mysterious parts, and various nuances regarding the back story.  Every couple of chapters goes back in time to either Chase first becoming a part of the McFarland family or about Willie and Jack. (willie's brother)

Learning the truth about who he is, is like chasing fireflies on a summer's night.
It can be elusive.

Chase lives on a boat but is often at "Unc" and Lorna's (Unc is a nickname for Willie).  Chase's other uncle (Jack,whom Willie rarely speaks to) is named Jack and has a daughter named Tommye.  Tommye is home from LA where she was doing adult movies and acquired HIV and is dying.  Tommye and Chase have always had a very special relationship.  We soon learn that her big brother, when they were small children, committed suicide and both children were victims of incest by Jack, their father.  Willie and Jack don't speak much nor even act like brothers because of something in their past.  Their father died, Willie's wife was killed and a bit later his little boy was killed.  Yet, we don't know the details at the time this part of the back-story is told.  Willie was accused of stealing from the community bank and put in prison yet he never served his full term. We don't know the "whys" of that either although we do learn that he is NOT the one who stole all the bank bonds.  Willie is a peacemaker, yet we don't know why.

Chase is a journalist who soon learns that the local hospital has a young boy who was found on some railroad tracks.  Apparently his mother or guardian.....a young woman....was found dead in the car that a train crashed into.  She pushed the boy out of the car just in time before the train hit.  He is mute (voice box was damaged by physical abuse) and is a fantastic, gifted artist who writes and draws to communicate.  Willie brings the boy home to be a foster father to him as per the court ruling since no relatives come to claim the boy.  He is a victim of severe emotional and physical abuse.

Just who is this little boy??  Will he ever talk aloud?

And will Chase ever learn the truth about himself??

Read the story to find out!


Another good page-turner and tear-jerker.

One thing I didn't like about this story was the topic of incest.....just very disturbing and yet I know this does go on all over the United States.  It can be difficult to read about though. Thankfully, the author just touched on it briefly and did a very good job in telling this back story so that you understand the life of Tommye.

  He does a great job with writing descriptives about each character without that part of the story getting bogged down.  I also like how he catches the reader up with the back-story of the character without taking too much time away, or ruining the flow, of the main plot line.

The one thing that was just not well researched was that the author spoke of Chase and Unc catching fireflies on Xmas Eve.  Fireflies, from my own curiosity and research on the internet (I checked five different sources), only show up in the  late spring/summer time!  So....that was just inaccurate information although it made for a nice touch to the story as he used fireflies in an analogy.  It's just odd that he chose Xmas Eve and not summer time. Little things like that bug me (No pun intended!!).

Overall, this was a great story.  It speaks of family love, of betrayals, of trials and triumphs, of friendship, of orphans and abandonment, loss, adoption.  In fact, each character in this book is "abandoned" in some way.  I will leave it up to you to figure out how.

The title is very symbolic and I loved all the sayings that Uncle Willie expresses to Chase, Tommye and the little boy who comes to be named Sketch.  Here are some of my favorite quotes from this book:

"Identity does not grow out of action until it has taken root in belonging." (Chasing Fireflies, c.2007 pg.233)
"He said he gave up what he couldn't keep to gain what he couldn't lose."  (on speaking about missionary Jim Elliot; Chasing Fireflies c.2007, pg.260)
Now, that above quote originally by Jim Elliot (for those of you who don't know Jim's story, Hollywood made an excellent movie based on his life called "End of the Spear" and just last week his wife, Elisabeth Elliot, died.  He was bringing the gospel to the Huaroni native tribes of Ecuador when he was killed by some of the tribesmen.)  The actual quote he wrote in his journal before he died is this:
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose"

This quote is actually based on something the preacher Philip Henry spoke of back in the 1600s, England.

You might also have read (highly recommend!) or heard of the book by his wife, Elisabeth Elliot, Through the Gates of Splendor, which is the story of the life and death of Jim).

Another quote from the book that I really liked was this one:

"Don Quixote saw things as God intended them, not as what they'd become. He said, " 'I come in a world of iron, to make a world of gold.'" (Chasing Fireflies c.2007, pg.302)
There were many profound thoughts, mainly from the character Willie/Liam but those are the ones that really stuck with me.

The ending of the book went just as I predicted.  I had figured out just exactly who Chase's father might be and I wasn't surprised.  The way it all played out though was brilliant.  What bothered me was that Jack was never really brought back in the end to "get his due" but I think that was the point of the story.......I don't want to say too much to ruin it for you.  The entire ending is sad, happy, bittersweet, forgiving, and loving.  A range of emotions went through me as I read the conclusion.  It is very powerful and the lessons taught in this book are subtle...the love of God is brought out in such a way that the general public would not consider this a "Christian book".  It is quite well done without being sappy.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older (due to content and mature themes although the writing itself could be read by a child in junior high).

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.

1 comment:

Susanne said...

This is one I haven't read yet.