April 12, 2010

Fireworks over Toccoa

Reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society whet my appetite for WWII fiction. When I found out that 5 Minutes for Books was hosting a book club for the new WWII novel Fireworks Over Toccoa, I jumped at the chance to participate. You can read others' reviews of the book here. I'm not writing a formal review, but I'm going to tackle some of the discussion questions (others have done the same here.) WARNING:  spoilers may follow!

Do you think duty is ever more important than love? Unequivocally, yes. I say that because the world's idea of love is not genuine love. (And I'd refer you to a great book on the subject of marriage).

How would you describe the love between Jake and Lily? Was it genuine? Born of fear or loneliness? Could it have survived the intricacies of "real life," or could it only have existed in the tiny pocket of time outside of reality that they had? I wouldn't characterize their relationship as love, but lust born out of loneliness, neediness & physical attraction. For Lily, Jake represented everything that was completely opposite of who she was raised to be. The danger factor made it more enticing. I don't think they could've survived "real life" because they were living in a fantasy world for that small period of time.

Lily’s father Walter is very clear with her about what he expects her to do when he speaks to her the morning after she has been out all night with Jake. What was your response to how Walter handled this situation? In his place, in what ways would you have reacted similarly or differently? I actually agreed with Walter. Someone had to bring Lily to her senses. In all honestly, I felt that he should have intervened before she married in the first place.

Though not a typical Young Adult coming-of-age novel, how is Fireworks over Toccoa the story of Lily's coming of age?  Lily realizes that her impetuous marriage may have been a mistake. She also finally finds the courage to ignore the expectations of her parents and the community of Toccoa. We find out that the events of that summer change the course of her life, sparking her to break out on her own and develop her talent as an artist.

Overall, I wasn't thrilled with Fireworks Over Toccoa. Author Jeffrey Stepakoff did a wonderful job of bringing his characters and the town to life, but I found it sad that Lily seemed to have devoted a large portion of her heart and life to a man she knew for less than a week. I wonder if she would have even recognized him 10 years later, because she was obviously clinging to the idea of him.

So there you have it, my very straightforward opinion of the book! If you'd like to know what others think, click on the links listed above.


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Unknown said...

Interesting thoughts! I especially like what you said about her father.