Book Discussion: Chasing Fireflies

chasing-fireflies** WARNING: This is a book club discussion of “Chasing Fireflies.” If you haven’t read the book and don’t want anything spoiled for you, you probably shouldn’t read this post or its comments. There are bound to be spoilers lurking around here somewhere, so proceed with caution.**


Reading this book made me feel like I was sitting in a rocking chair on a front porch, swatting flies, drinking iced tea and listening to my Aunt Doris tell stories. And while I never really did that with my Aunt Doris, I’m convinced that it would have felt very much like Charles Martin’s writing style. Some people might find his writing too descriptive or overworked, but I found it very Southern and quite endearing.


I really enjoyed this book. I’ve actually read another book by Martin. And while it was good and had a similar feel, I liked this one better and felt like it was more redemptive. But maybe it is just me.


While I have lots of thoughts about the wonderfully developed characters and interesting story, I think I’ll start with what I thought was the most powerful quote from the book:

Damaged souls look for other damaged souls. And when we find each other, we coexist. Out there … we were just medicating the black hole inside each of us. I found a family out there. And it took a lot of drugs to keep the family together.”


That made me think of the countless number of hurting people at our church and in our Valley who are trying to medicate that black hole inside them. While we often don’t know the road people have walked to get to that point in their lives, we do know the Filler of the black hole. And what an honor it is to walk along side them as they get to know Him and He starts His life-transformation work.


First things first, what did you think of the book? Love it? Hate it?

Secondly, what is something that really stood out to you? What was something that you learned or that you took away from the book? What did you think of the characters and the character development? Was there something that challenged you or your thinking? What about the theme of abandonment that is so pervasive in the book?


Don’t forget to check back to see what other people are saying. And jump in with your own comments! Comment on other people’s comments. Let’s get this discussion started!

14 thoughts on “Book Discussion: Chasing Fireflies

  1. Kimberly

    First of all, THANK YOU for picking this book! I loved it and even added one of his to my book club’s reading list. I hadn’t ever read one of his before.

    I’ll admit that I had a little trouble with the detailed and lengthy descriptions. I am not much of an “outdoorsy” girl, so all the description of the landscape was lost on me….but I’m sure it was wonderful for others.

    I love the story and the characters. It challenged me on judging or even making an opinion at all about people too quickly. The life of Unc wouldn’t be the place my narrow mind would want to plop down a broken kid, but it was actually the best place.

    I loved how I saw Jesus and the Father in Uncle Willie’s character. Love, acceptance, self-sacrifice-incredible self-sacrifice…

    I kept thinking through the book, what if Unc is his real dad? I love it when I get just what I want at the end of the book, but yet it was somehow a suprise!

    One other concern I’d heard from others who read his books, was that they always had difficult subjects. Even though there were clearly child abuse, and abandonment, as well as drugs and AIDS, I was not put off at all. I found it very tactful and not at all over done.

    I liked that the friends from California came out to the funeral as well. Maybe its just me, but it reminded me that everyone is lost and has a God shaped hole. Maybe they came because they were searching and maybe seeds were planted that day.

    Whenever I find an author I like, I end up buying all their books, and I’ll admit, I’ve either purchased them all, or they are on my wish list at Amazon!

    Can’t wait to see what others thought.

  2. Lori Wilhite

    I’m so glad that you liked it Kimberly. What book did you choose for your book club? I’ve also read “The Dead Don’t Dance” which is also very heavy, but good.

    I really loved how Unc pulled life lessons out of the ordinary-everyday … orchids, fishing, the list goes on. I try to do that … but oh, I could do so much better. Point out so much more. I’m praying for more of a sensitivity to things, more of an awareness to talk to the kids about Spiritual and Life lessons.

    Any thoughts on how two brothers could be so different … like Jack and Unc. There is an obvious Cane and Able parallel. But what about in the here and now?

  3. Kimberly

    You are totally right, I forgot about the brothers. What a contrast! It certainly made me think about the whole nature vs. nurture thing and good vs. evil. I don’t have words to describe his brother, every time I start to type, I am reminded that I am a sinner too, but wow, how do you get to that point? And by all appearances, they were the totally opposite character to everyone around them. How often am I totally wrong about someone?

    We are going to read When Crickets Cry, but I ordered The Dead Don’t Dance too. I’ll let you know what I think of it!

  4. Lori Wilhite

    You are certainly right about the nature vs nurture between those two brothers. And about appearances. Neither were who they seemed to be.

    Now, what about that little boy … Buddy … or whatever you want to call him. He just about broke my heart. Such hideous abuse. It just made me that much more thankful for great foster parents. My friend has three kids of her own and is also a foster parent. She’s amazing. Such a loving person and wonderful mom! I’m so grateful for people like her that are making a difference in the lives of kids in that way. It is massive sacrifice and dedication that can make a tremendous difference in the lives of those kids.

  5. Lori Wilhite

    And it looks like we are all alone for now Kimberly! I know some other people got the book because they told me about it. Maybe we will hear from them once they are finished! 🙂

  6. Kimberly

    Maybe they were out of town for the weekend 🙂 That little boy was amazing! I wonder if his talent to draw is even possible?? It breaks my heart to think of all those children and greatful for the great foster families I know.

  7. Fae Faber

    I finally finished the book. I thought the book was just okay. I was totally surprised that Unc was Chase’s father. I am also surprised at Chase’s reaction to all the “secrets”. I know that Unc’s reason for not telling Chase about his parenthood was because of Uncle Jack and thinking that Uncle Jack had the power to cause Chase harm, but everyone has grown up. My heart ached for all the times that Chase wanted his Dad. I suppose what I am trying to say is that Uncle Jack’s evil and power made it such that a father and son could not have a true father and son relationship. After all the time that passed, I would have thought that the evil and power would have diminished so that the truth could have come out sooner than it did. It just seems so unjust that Chase believed that his father abandoned him when he was right there with him all the time.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Unc had a lot of good qualities. He would shine the flashlight for others and not himself. He was always trying to build others confidence up. I think the firefly story is a perfect example – That God put the light in the firefly. It was not chance or haphazard but had a purpose. My favorite quote would be “So, if your mind is telling you that God slipped up and might have made one giant mistake when it comes to you, you remember the fireflies butt.”

    But then again I am not sure how Tommye would relate to the firefly story. I feel that many of her choices were due to Uncle Jack’s evil and it was amazing that through all the evil that she experienced that it was through Unc’s acceptance and love that she came to Christ.

  8. Lori Wilhite

    Yea Fae! Someone else finished the book! Excellent!

    I totally agree about Chase’s reaction to the biggest news in his life … EV-ER! Good intentions or not, I would have probably been ticked for a good long while.

    Since you thought the book was “just okay” I’d love to hear the things you didn’t really like. You were sweet to point out the good things but I would love to hear the other side.

    For me, this is not usually the kind of book that I like. I don’t normally read contemporary fiction. I’m really more of a historical girl. Throw in some things that were out and out depressing and you really get me turning my nose up. That is why I didn’t love the last book I read by this author. Too depressing for me. So I have to admit I was pretty skeptical going in … Maybe that is why I was pleasently surprised.

  9. Fae Faber

    For me it was like going to a movie and the ending is not what you expect – kind of like the hero dying at the end and sometimes I think that affects how you like a movie or book. I just really did not like the fact that the two people that Chase cared about the most-Tommye and Unc – had it in their power to ease his confusion and anquish and they did not do in until Tommye’ will was read.

    I do think the book was very good at expressing the anguish that can happen when someone feels abandoned and unwanted. And even though Unc was a good father figure, having and knowing who and where you come from is important.

    I have not read any books by this auther before so it is hard for me to say this book was less depressing than any of his other books. I thought the chapters were kind of disconnected – one chapter about Buddy and then the next chapter about Chase’s experiences that maybe I just had a hard time getting into the story.

    I probably wanted a happy ever after ending.

  10. Lori Wilhite

    I like a nice and tidy, happy ending too! This one was wrapped up enough for me even though it was a bit disjointed and a little rushed. I was pretty satisfied with it.

    The ending always makes or breaks books and movies for me.

  11. Tiff

    Finished tonight! I enjoyed the book, but…

    Frankly, I like my realistic fiction to be somewhat realistic. To me, this was a fairy tale (yes, a horrific fairy tale, but a fairy tale nonetheless…), full of characters whose lives were SO interesting that I didn’t quite “buy it”. Even the regular gal, Lorna, turned out to have a sordid and mysterious past. Made for good reading, but nothing I could imagine ever happening. It was just too far-fetched to me. (Reminds me of most James Bond movies, pre-Daniel Craig, of course. An invisible car? Come on!! At that point, I can’t even enjoy the movie anymore!)

    I did like the message of the book, and a few things really grabbed me. My favorite quote was when Chase was reflecting on his own abandonment. He says, “Men spend their lives asking, ‘Who am I?’, when the real question is, ‘WHOSE am I?’ Identity does not grow out of action until it has taken root in belonging.”

    Wow! Now that’s a nugget! How many of us work our fingers to the bone on stupid stuff for nothing more than the approval of others? I remember many nights staying up late making homemade goodies for the soccer team or the class party in the hopes that “they” would all know what a good mom I am. Even with an identity in Christ, and parents who have always shown me love, I get consumed with impressing people instead of working to please God. When I am focusing my energy on working toward His goals for my life, I can find my identity in that work because it comes for and through Him.

  12. Pingback: What’s Your Flavor Friday « Leading and Loving It

  13. Marian

    I just finished this book last night. I dont understand why Unc did not tell the police about the trap door under Jacks desk when Unc was arrested for alledgedly stealing the bonds. Can anyone help me with that?
    Uncs son had not been “kudnapped” at that point so I dont see Unc not telling about the trap door as a way of protecting his son at the time of his arrest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

16 − 14 =