Chasing Fireflies


 Chasing Fireflies  *****  by Charles Martin

I’m joining Jain with my edible book review at Food for Thought, where pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera. Books, Food & Photos, my three favorite things all in one place!

I LOVED  this book. It had all the elements that appeal to me: colorful characters, a vivid setting (coastal Georgia–Brunswick, to be specific), and a story with secrets to unfold.  The main character, Chase Walker, is a reporter assigned a story on an abused and abandoned boy. The abandonment is something that he has in common with the boy known as “Snoot”, or the state refers to him, “John Doe  #117”. Chase’s adopted parents, Willee and Lorna McFarland, his cousin Tommye, Uncle Willee’s brother, Jack,  all figure prominently in this story.


To us–those who seek the solace of the marsh–it is a stage where God paints–yellow in the morning, green toward noon, brownish in the afternoon, and blood red toward evening. It is the sentinel that stands guard at the ocean’s edge, protecting from the runoff that would kill it. It is selfless and sacrificial place. And when I close my eyes, it is also the smell of home.

Uncle Willie is a simple man who has suffered his own tragedies. He explains his source of wisdom: “Sometimes good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.” He shares his life’s lessons with both Chase and Snoot, while discussing fireflies, orchids, fishing and food. His food tastes run towards Yoo-Hoo, Moonpies, Krispy Kreme doughnuts and Krystal Burgers.




Uncle Willee speaks his own language made up of one-liners that make sense mostly to him.

Uncle Willee-isms:

“they ate supper before they had grace” = moved in together, then got married

“Time to paint your butt white & run with the antelope” = do as you’re told

“You can put your boots in the oven, but that doesn’t make them biscuits” = you can say whatever you want about something, but that doesn’t change what it is

 “All hat and no cattle” = big talk but can’t back it up

Lots of fishing and boating scenes that appeal to me  :)


Men spend their lives asking Who am I? when the real question is Whose am I? I don’t think you can answer the first until you’ve settled the second. First horse, then cart. Identity does not grow out of action until it has taken root in belonging. The orchid speech taught me that.


‘Care for the roots, and the flower will bloom all on it’s own.’  Unc  then took a slender but strong bamboo shoot, about four feet long and slid it into the dirt along the stem of the orchid. Then he loosely tied the stem to the shoot.  ‘That’s to guide the stem. Otherwise it’ll bloom too much, and the weight of the blooms can break the stem.  So let it bloom all it wants, but give it something to lean on.’


This passage, about cooking the fish right after catching it on the boat, and serving it with cheese grits, had me running to one of my favorite cookbooks that is all about the coast and seafood…

It’s full of beautiful photos and spectacular recipes. I got sidetracked on the way to the seafood and couldn’t tear myself away from the recipe below.

 NO, I told myself, your book has nothing to do with a tomato tart!  Chase is preparing fish on his boat. He’s cooking grits… stay on task… find a fish recipe.

Well … my inner-self rationalized, he did SLICE a tomato…

So I succumbed…


 I did eventually find a cheese grits recipe.



I never got around to preparing any seafood. I just sighed and admired and got distracted by the beautiful photography and the promise of warmer weather.  Here are some examples from this cookbook to tempt your pallette …


 You take the bad with the good. Rise up through it. Live in the midst of it. It’s the bad that lets you know how good the good really is. Don’t let the bad leave you thinking there ain’t no good. There is, and lots of it too.

This is an exceptional story that about a man’s journey to find his identity and another man’s sacrifices for those he loves. Be sure to have some tissues handy…

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  12 comments for “Chasing Fireflies

  1. February 13, 2010 at 3:04 am

    Love the Uncle Willeeisms! You are forgiven for succumbing to the tart–looks fabulous!

  2. February 13, 2010 at 4:48 am

    Ditto on the Uncle Willeeisms!
    I’m impressed that you and Jain get so many books read and reviewed. I’m feeling accomplished with my one! LOL

    • February 13, 2010 at 1:15 pm

      It’s called OCD :)

  3. February 13, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Sounds like my kind of book! beautiful pictures and so much wonderful food!!! lovely review!

  4. February 13, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    I’m more thrilled about checking out the cookbook than Chasing Fireflies! You did a fabulous job of tempting our tastebuds with those luscious photos!

  5. February 13, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Your ARE a reader:) The food looks fabulous..I think I would like the books..both..

  6. February 13, 2010 at 4:05 pm


    but first… omg, all those moon pies were made for ME! I NEED THEM! ok, enough about me…

    i can tell you straight up i would never have selected this book, abandoned and abused child is nothing i would jump willing into, but you have changed my thoughts completely. you are just a master at this, i adore all the pics you share, you evoke the perfect emotions with all you share, you just draw us right into the pages and share so many great quotes its like a mini novella thru your eyes.

    and i love the bonus cookbook book and recipes too, isn’t it fun to share?! you truly excel at this, and thanks for succumbing for your art and giving us TWO great recipes! and you pics are always over the top perfect~

    i LOVE LOVE LOVED IT ALL! really, i am so thrilled you started a blog to play like this, i know first hand how fun it is, but to see others getting deep into, well… BE STILL MY HEART! thank you~

    • February 13, 2010 at 8:55 pm

      Thanks for all your comments, I’m so flattered! My husband jokingly refers to this as my “book reports” and he asked me this morning what kind of “grade” I got …I told him that you were on the west coast and the sun wasn’t even up yet so I hadn’t been graded :-) I have to confess I’m reading in a whole different way now (with sticky notes!) and having sooooo much fun doing this!

  7. February 15, 2010 at 12:51 am

    What a great book review… and your food photos are spectacular as the food itself. I enjoyed it… thank you~
    ~Really Rainey~

  8. February 15, 2010 at 2:32 am

    Wonderful review, great food and pictures, and I think that I’m an Uncle Willee fan already…

  9. February 19, 2010 at 12:07 am

    I just found your blog in the last week or so and can I tell you how much I love this idea! I love to read! I LOVE to cook… I loved combining the two. what a wonderful idea! Oh, and I love any southern food so I’m ready to run get a moon pie to eat while I fix tomato pie and shrimp and grits…

    • February 19, 2010 at 12:45 am

      Me Too! I’m so glad Jain came up with this idea to host edible reviews. The next one is a week from Saturday. Hope to see your review there!

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