Title: Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker
Genres: YA, Historical, Romance, Christian
Published by: Zondervan (Dec. 26, 2012)
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.
What I Thought
I recently discovered this book through a Booktube video, and thought it looked like the perfect summer read. After checking out all the rave reviews on Goodreads, I decided to check it out from the library, and see what I thought of Chasing Jupiter!
I really enjoyed this book. It’s set in the ’60’s, which is one of my favorite time periods, and actually, the setting is one of the things that initially drew to this book. The writing really made me feel like I was there. I could feel the hot, Georgia, summer sun on me, and the chill ’60’s vibe. Also, this book will make you so hungry for peach pie it’s not even funny.
The characters in this novel were so good! I absolutely loved Scarlett’s little brother, Cliff. He was such a fun, sassy little character. I loved his knock knock jokes! It’s pretty clear that he has autism, but being that this book takes place in the ’60’s everyone just thinks he’s “different.” I love how Scarlett loved him and treated him just the same as anyone else. She respected his space and sensory issues, and really allowed him to be himself. Scarlett, herself, was such a strong, likable, and relatable character. Then there’s Frank. He made such a good love interest, and I really just loved everything about him – especially his love for animals. I also absolutely loved the pastor’s wife, Dotty. She was such a fun and energetic character, and I loved seeing the friendship between her and Scarlett grow.
I really adored this book! It was short, sweet, and summer-y. Honestly, the only thing I wasn’t crazy about was the family dynamics between Scarlett and her parents. I feel like the author tried to portray Scarlett’s parents as average, just a bit stressed out, people. However they didn’t come across as that way to me. Scarlett is basically responsible for taking care of the entire family, and when something goes wrong and she talks about how “if only I had done this or that,” nobody even denies it. She cooks and cleans, she’s responsible for taking care of her little brother with autism, as well as her grandfather with dementia, and at times it feels like she’s responsible for her older sister as well. Like, that’s too much. It would be one thing if she had absentee parents, but she didn’t. It’s never depicted that what they’re doing is wrong. Yes, they were stressed out with work, but that’s not your 16-year-old’s fault. Yes, family should be there for each other, and kids need to help their parents out, but it felt like nobody was ever there for her. Scarlett had a bit of a Cinderella complex to me, and not once did her parents ever really acknowledge that.
Aside from that, I really enjoyed this book. It’s much more of a tearjerker than I expected, though! I had so many emotions while reading it. I laughed. I cried. I was angry. I was happy. It was quite the emotional roller coaster packed into those 224 pages. I cannot believe the author was only 16 when she wrote this book! I would definitely recommend Chasing Jupiter to anyone looking for a short and summer-y historical (contemporary-ish?), read.
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