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Reviewed by Cheryl Russell
Chasing Fireflies by Charles
"Strong characters inhabit this novel ... family is also a strong theme, as well as the search for truth."
The key to a reporter's past is found through an abused little boy.
Chase Walker is a reporter just released from jail in the sleepy town of Brunswick, Georgia. After his three day incarceration, he wants a little down time at home, a sail boat named Gone Fiction anchored 80 yards off shore and the acre he owns on the Altamaha River. His Uncle Willee, his foster father and the man who raised Chase since he was six, is outside the small prison. He's waiting, in his 1970s era hearse named Sally, to give Chase a ride home. Right before he merges Sally into traffic, Uncle Willee drops his bit of news—Tommye's home. Nine years after vanishing in the middle of the night, the prodigal has returned. She's staying with Uncle Willee and his wife, in the apartment above the barn—the same place Chase lived in during high school and college and still stayed in when he doesn't feel like going home. As Tommye and Chase begin to reconnect, his phone rings. It's his editor and he has a story/mystery for Chase to investigate.
A young, badly abused boy was discovered out by the train tracks. He was found after a suicidal driver shot onto the tracks in front of the Silver Meteor, a famous train long past its heyday, that still runs a regular route through that part of Georgia. He's in the hospital, refusing to speak, and no one has a clue to his identity.
Chase sees himself in the young boy. He too, is unknown in many ways. He has a vague memory of his father, but can't recall his face. He also longs to know his real name, the one given to him by his dad. For his whole life, he has felt "Chase" doesn't quite fit, and has searched in vain for both his name and his father.
Now he has a different search. To find out the identity of an abused mute boy, a talented artist who speaks through his rapidly drawn and highly detailed pictures. As he digs deeper into the young boy's background, questions regarding his own mysterious history surface and demand answers. With Tommye's help, the truth begins to illuminate Chase's past. It also clarifies actions of a long time ago, actions whose ramifications still resonate to this day.
Chasing Fireflies is the latest book from Charles Martin, author of When Crickets Cry, Wrapped in Rain, and The Dead Don't Dance. The novel opens with a powerful prologue, then switches to Chase's point of view for the rest of the novel. Strong characters inhabit this novel, Uncle Willee with his wisdom-packed "Willee-isms". Tommye, harboring a horrible childhood secret, returns from her California lifestyle with a life eating disease. She returns to the only sanctuary she's ever known, the house that sets at the end of the dirt road, lined with fifty-four pecan trees.
Family is a strong theme in this novel, as well as the search for truth. Uncle Willee is a man with numerous reasons to be bitter and vengeful, but has chosen a higher path instead. Tommye is a deeply wounded young woman, driven into a destructive lifestyle by childhood demons. Chase is a well-written character with a dry sense of humor, determined to find out a young boy's identity and discovering his own and much more, in the process. Chasing Fireflies is the first book of Charles Martin's I have read; and I don't intend for it to be the last.
Cheryl Russell lives in the Midwest with her husband and three children. Her short stories, as well as a few articles, have been published in print and online. She's loved to read for as long as she can remember and puts all that time to good use writing book reviews for Infuze, Novel Reviews, and Title Trakk. She's also a member of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, FIRST network, Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour and American Christian Fiction Writers. She's currently working on her first novel. If she could, she'd spend her time hanging out in the thermal areas of Yellowstone in general, Norris Geyser Basin in particular. Another favorite spot is Kennicott, an old copper mining town in Wrangel-St. Elias National Park, Alaska, which is at the end of a 60 mile dirt road, 8 hours west of Anchorage. She and her family are frequent hikers in the national parks, and have pounded the dirt trails in Virginia, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska. You can visit her at her blog, Unseen Worlds or at her website.