You know abandonment is an interesting and hard to live with concept. I would never profess to be a professional with words, but if you think about the word and the idea of to abandon…well, the concept is enough to depress someone. For those of you that don’t know the exact definition:
1. to leave completely and finally; forsake utterly; desert: to abandon one’s farm; to abandon a child; to abandon a sinking ship.
The book Chasing Fireflies opens to a young boy surviving an apparent suicide/homicide attempt with a woman that died at the hands of a train in the southeast part of Georgia. As the story of the McFarlands unfolds around this young boy that can’t speak, you realize that Chase, Unc, Lorna, and Tommye all have situations of abandonment to deal with.
I had mixed feelings when I initially started reading this book, because not unlike the South it started off slow. But, as you get further into the story, you realize that he did this on purpose. Martin wants to describe and show you how slow the south moves, how very difficult situations (such as Tommye’s HIV positive diagnosis) cannot always be solved but can be maneuvered with love, life, and family.
Chase’s love for Tommye is revisited both before and after he found out about her diagnosis. How she left Georgia and didn’t even call didn’t go unnoticed as well. Once he has figured out that she has not only HIV but Hepatitis as well, he fears the worse. Unfortunately, he’s correct in that assessment.
As the main characters of this story discover the truth between the McFarland brothers Jack and Willie, they realize that one had the entire town fooled. That the other went to jail for a crime that he never committed. So, even in death, Tommye showed them all that love, patience, and forgiveness is the road back to an identity that you never knew about.
I really enjoyed this book. There’s an ending not to be believed, until you actually get to it. Charles Martin paints the picture of the South not seen by most. It’s not the violence, it’s not the aggression, it is the love and passion of identity and family. This is a book that I would have never anticipated reading, would not have picked up myself, but am so glad that I did.