Chasing Jupiter / by Rachel Coker. 7.2.2013


Zondervan (December 25, 2012), ISBN 978-0310732938

HS Grades 8-12 Rating:  4

** Pre-Publication Reviewed

Rachel Coker, author of Interrupted, returns with a novel about sixteen year old Scarlett Blaine whose dreams and reality clash as the world around her changes.

In Chasing Jupiter, Scarlett lives in the shadow of an older rebellious sister and a younger autistic brother. Both parents work hard to make ends meet. Their grandfather who also lives with Scarlett’s family, begins to suffer from dementia. It is the summer of 1969 when Neil Armstrong lands on the moon. Scarlett’s brother Cliff announces he wants to be the first person to fly to Jupiter. Scarlett promises to help him by selling peach pies to raise the money to build Cliff’s rocket.  A farmer’s son, Frank, helps Scarlett, and they become close friends.

Scarlett’s mother volunteers her to teach the pastor’s wife to cook one afternoon each week. As they spend time together, Scarlett talks about her desire for God to fix everything in her life, so she would have a (normal) family again. Mrs. Greene tells her “God’s grace isn’t in him solving our problems instantly,” but in the assurance that “he has a greater plan.” When situations arise to complicate matters further, Scarlett’s faith is weakened until she is able to recapture God’s purpose for her life.

Although this is her second novel, Coker writes at a level beyond her years. Her well-written narratives and character development are excellent. The reader is drawn into the middle of Scarlett’s family and each family member’s challenges. Some scenes told after the fact might have enhanced the story if they had been included.

Chasing Jupiter is realistic fiction, historical fiction, and a light romance, all rolled into one. If you haven’t discovered Ms. Coker’s books yet, do so now!

Carol R. Gehringer,

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