Book Review: Chasing Jupiter

I enjoyed Rachel Coker’s debut novel, Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words, so much, that after finishing it I immediately looked up her second book, Chasing Jupiter.

In this book, Scarlett Blaine is a teenager in Georgia in the 1960s. Her parents are busy fighting and going to political meetings, so Scarlett becomes the main cook and caregiver for her elderly grandfather and younger brother. Her brother, Cliff, has some kind of unnamed mental or processing disorder. Not as much was known about such things then, so he’s just generally regarded as “different.” Partly out of standing up for him, Scarlett takes on the mantle of being “different,” too—not in a mental way, but just in her personality.

Cliff has decided he wants to build a rocket to go to Jupiter. Scarlett knows they can’t build a real one, but she helps Cliff raise money for materials. They decide to make and sell peach pies, with the help of the local farmer’s son, Frank.

Scarlett grows to like Frank, but Frank has eyes for Scarlett’s wild sister, Juli.

Scarlett’s pastor’s wife hears about her culinary skills and invites her over to help make food for the church’s shut-ins. Scarlett is reluctant at first, but then enjoys getting to know the pastor’s wife.

A series of family tragedies shakes Scarlett’s faith. Her pastor’s wife tells her, “The beauty of salvation and God’s grace isn’t in him solving all of our problems instantly, like a magic genie. Its beauty comes in the assurance that he has a greater plan for you.” Can Scarlett trust Him with all the problems and find peace in the midst of them?

Rachel has written another beautiful story. It took me just a bit longer to connect with Scarlett than Allie in the previous book. But I could empathize with much in her situation.

This book was written in 2012, and I’ve seen nothing from Rachel since these two books. There’s nothing on her Facebook page since 2017, when she was newly married. Looks like she went into photography for a while, but that sight has not been updated since 2016. Perhaps everyday life precluded her writing. But I hope she finds her way back to it some day.

(Sharing with Booknificent)

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