Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin was an interesting summer read. Martin is a Florida author and this 2008 book was ranking pretty consistently on the Kindle lists, so I decided to check it out. The story begins when a woman on a suicide run kicks her horrifically abused little boy, known only as Snoot—or to the state, John Doe 117—out of the car before pulling her car into the path of an oncoming train. Chase Walker, a reporter for the Brunswick Daily in Glen County, Ga., is assigned to follow up on the boy, whose abandonment mirrors Chase’s own haunted past.
Martin’s prose is well crafted. He develops characters who entice and pull you in. He takes you to the setting in southern Georgia and immerses you in it. The plot had weaknesses. The tragedies are definitely piled on and the “villain” is so bad it is just a stretch. That aside, it is a story that will evoke a strong emotional reaction from many readers. It certainly did in me. It reminded me of the deep responsibility you have as a father to love your child with everything you have and more.
On a stifling summer day, an old Chevy Impala ignored the warning signals and was annihilated by the oncoming train. What no one realized until much later was that the driver had paused just before entering the tracks and kicked a small boy out of the car. A small boy with broken glasses who is clutching a notebook with all his might . . . but who never speaks.
Chase Walker was one of the lucky ones. He was in foster care as a child, but he finally ended up with a family who loved him and cared for him. Now, as a journalist for the local paper, he’s moved on and put the past behind him. But when he’s assigned the story of this young boy, painful, haunting questions about his own childhood begin to rise to the surface.
And as Chase Walker discovers, learning the truth about who you are can be as elusive—and as magical—as chasing fireflies on a summer night.