Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker

Chasing JupiterTitle: Chasing Jupiter
Author: Rachel Coker
Stand Alone
Format: Hardcover
Publisher- Zondervan
Published- December 26th, 2012
Pages- 216
Source- Zondervan

"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."

It's the Summer of 1969 and Scarlett Blaine's life is changing right before eyes. Scarlett has always been the responsible one even making meals because her mother stopped cooking. She has to take care of her Grandpop Barley who's obsessed with peanut butter and her brother who's very different too. All the while her parents' arguing becomes more intense which her sister isn't helping by dating a boy named Ziggy and being out at all hours of the night. There is one silver lining. The serious but sweet Frank who saves animals whenever he cans and suddenly takes a liking to what her and her brother are about to do - build a rocket to Jupiter.

It all starts with a list. Scarlett is a 16 year old who loves her little brother Cliff who's a bit odd which makes her more protective towards him. I'm pretty sure he has autism based on how sometimes he doesn't liked to be touched and how he knows all of the dates of the Spanish Civil War. He also likes speaking Spanish too but only knows the twelve words his sister learned. It was kind of funny him saying some Spanish words here and there but a little annoying that sometimes he would just say uno, dos, tres. I mean I'm a Hispanic that doesn't speak the language but it's not hard to learn up to ten. That's just me. I thought Cliff was the brightest spot in the whole story. He's genuine and acts mostly like any other kid just with better interests. All those other kids are boring compared to him. In this story is another situation of parents or others thinking something's wrong with Cliff and wanting to fix it. I think even if their parents knew he was autistic (did anybody even know autism existed in 1969?) they would treat him the same. "Why can't we fix him?" You know why? Because he isn't broken. People... 

The list. The list is a birthday list that Cliff modifies two times. One of the modifications includes a rocket so that Cliff can be the first person on Jupiter. I don't know why people would find that odd at all. Have you ever met a child with imagination? Apparently not. Anyways Scarlett makes a promise that she will make him a rocket. She will do it by selling peach pies (always made me hungry thinking of them) and using that money to get supplies to make her rocket. One thing she did not expect on this adventure was the help of Frank who she has a crush on and he in turn has a crush on her older sister Juli. Juli the one who has changed dramatically and has become this sort of hippie rebel. I seriously think that Juli shouldn't have been represented as the bad guy. Just because she goes to a different beat then her parents why does that mean that she has to do things that are wrong? She was obviously misunderstood but was portrayed in a bad light which I thought was a mistake to do. She's oblivious to Frank too which Scarlett points out in her head all the time but doesn't have it in her to tell Frank how she feels about him.

I thought Scarlett was a little bit immature. She was very protected in the world she lived in. I think because of that she reminded me a little bit of me so I was able to relate to her some. I did see her as a teenager who needed to find her way too so don't think that she was all immature in my mind.   She took care of a lot of things that she was unappreciated for. I mean she's sixteen cooking for her family all the time. What's up with that? She doesn't need to be doing that. It's nice if she would help out sometimes with the cooking but all of the meals? Seriously? It never got cleared up why her mother stopped cooking either. I thought it was this big thing but maybe I missed it in the story. I also thought that her parents weren't cleared up too. They fought a lot about bills and a political party that the father wanted to donate money to. I know the author probably wanted to keep that story in the sideline because it's not what she wanted the story to focus on but I think that part of the book could have helped enhance the story. 

Scarlett went to Mrs. Greene for advice. I thought Mrs. Greene, Pastor's wife, was a really warm and caring woman sometimes. There was this one moment where she overreacted with something that I thought was ridiculous for an adult to get all upset about. It did emphasize how Scarlett felt that adults fought too much and they didn't need to which is so true. Use your words! There was this one advice that Mrs. Greene gave her that was weird. She started talking about love and marriage. I was like what is this? The book towards the end went that way too. Why do you have to be thinking about marriage all of a sudden? Scarlett supposedly loves Frank but really you've spent one summer and you are contemplating marriage? That's weird. She did stand up for herself and her feelings if that makes any sense. It was nice to see her strong in that moment.

I really liked most of this story but I think it was the end that changed things for me some. There was things happening that I thought was unnecessary. The "what's happening?" feeling caught me a lot. I didn't like how it changed all of a sudden. I wanted more of the summer in the beginning. Hanging out in the hot sun selling some gooey peach pie (yum!). I know things need to change for Scarlett but it went a little too far. This is also a Christian fiction book which I expected because the publisher publishes Christian books. As long as there is just a sparse amount of religious things happening I'm good which was the case most of the story which I appreciated. But then that end. She unrealistically turned to God when she didn't even talk to God in the beginning. She was accepting him and whatnot. I didn't mind so much if the book had more religious moments but my problem was it felt unrealistic. I had mixed feelings with this one. I really liked most of the cast of characters and the story line was fantastic. Most of the story was well done for me but it was just the very end that gave me mixed feelings. Overall this being by a 17 year old I am really impressed. I could see Coker doing very well when she gets even more experience. 

About the Author

"Rachel Coker is a homeschool student who lives in Virginia with her parents and two sisters. She has a passion for great books and has been surrounded by them all her life. In fact, as a young child, Rachel helped her parents in a family-run Christian book business. Her gift of writing became apparent at the age of eleven, at which time her parents signed her up for a year of lessons with a professional writing coach. When she is not writing or playing the piano, Rachel enjoys spending time with her family and friends." -About Me in Chasing Jupiter

Thanks to Zondervan for providing me with this book!

For more info about Rachel Coker and her books go to:


  1. I haven't seen this book around. Great Review!
    It sounds interesting. I like books with old settings. I guess the author wanted to give light to the people and their mindset in those times. Like thinking or doing anything different from norm is odd. So she made Juli appear as bad and Cliff's wish as odd. Atleast I think so.
    I will add it to my TBR. :)

    1. Hmm... that's an interesting way to think about Juli and Cliff. I was thinking that like Scarlett she's a little bit sheltered and sees Juli being different odd. So kind of like what you are saying. Hope you like it!

  2. Yay! I've been waiting for your review on this! "I mean I'm a Hispanic that doesn't speak the language but it's not hard to learn up to ten. That's just me." LOL, I'm white and I agree-this was the easiest part of Spanish class. About the cooking, that would bother me too. I hate when something is mentioned in a book then seemingly forgotten and ends up being a plot hole. It reminds me of what happened to Jeremy's dog in The Vampire Diaries LOL

    1. Ha! Yes, more than that and I have a problem well... thirty and up is kind of hazy in my memory. Jeremy's dog? How do I not remember him? It must be the plot hole! Seriously I don't remember the dog. You might be talking about the book and I'm thinking the show.

  3. Sounds like a great read, and being from Georgia that makes it that much better :)

  4. I love books where the are set in the home town too. There's not that many I'm aware about set in my state though.

  5. I like the cover of this one! Scarlett sounds like an interesting character with some strengths and flaws (like all of us). I am impressed that it was written by a 17 year old. Wow! Thanks for sharing.

    1. I know such a pretty cover. It's got this definite old feeling to it. I don't know why but this book kind of reminds me of The Secret Life of Bees.


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