Title: Catching Fireflies by Sherryl Woods
The Sweet Magnolias Book 9
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+
Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through NetGalley
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Sherryl Woods captures a community’s heartfelt fight to preserve the innocence of childhood.
When bullying threatens to destroy a teen’s life, painful memories resurface for dedicated high school teacher Laura Reed and pediatrician J. C. Fullerton. With the support of the Sweet Magnolias, they bring the town together to ensure that a promising student’s future isn’t ruined. And to establish once and for all that bullying has no place in Serenity, South Carolina.
Both J.C.’s and Laura’s passion for the cause is deeply personal, and their growing feelings for each other are just as strong. But with so many secret hurts to overcome, can these two vulnerable lovers find the strength to believe in happily ever after?
In Catching Fireflies Sherryl Woods exposes the devastating effects of bullying. Once thought to be a harmless rite of passage, most schools now have a zero tolerance policy for bullying. But what happens when the victims are too afraid to speak up? That is exactly what happens in Catching Fireflies. If not for one observant teacher and a caring pediatrician, Misty Dawson might never have revealed the horrible and vicious attacks perpetrated by her fellow classmates. Through their own personal experiences, Laura Reed and J.C. Fullerton are aware of the long term consequences of bullying and they are determined to put a stop to the cruel behavior before it destroys Misty’s future.
Catching Fireflies is a hard-hitting and powerful lesson that addresses bullying from many different perspectives. Through Misty Dawson, we see how shame and fear cause her to keep silent about the horrible rumors that her fellow classmates are spreading about her. With her parents immersed in their own personal drama, we learn how easy it is for children to hide what is going on their lives.
Why would someone deliberately destroy another person’s reputation? In Catching Fireflies, the reason is multi-faceted. Jealousy is the primary motivation. Lack of parental discipline and guidance play a role. Support from friends gives the illusion that the behavior is acceptable and in fact, they join their friend in her personal vendetta.
We learn how social networking facilitates the bullying and escalates the attacks. Today’s technology makes it easy to retain anonymity and allows bullies to reach a wider audience. The ability to manipulate images through photo editing software makes it easy to humiliate Misty even further.
Secondary to the bullying storyline is the developing romance between Laura Reed and J.C. Fullerton. They are united in their mission to help Misty and their friendship slowly gives way to a sweet romance. Both have painful pasts but with patience and understanding, they are able to heal the hurts of previous relationships.
Fans of The Sweet Magnolias get the opportunity to catch up with characters from the previous books in this delightful series. The second generation of the Sweet Magnolias is just as endearing as their mothers are and they are quick to bring Laura into their fold.
Catching Fireflies provides valuable information and insight into a serious issue plaguing youth today. The novel is realistic and well written and Sherryl Woods does a wonderful job balancing this serious topic with lighter moments and a beautiful romance. Serenity is always a fabulous place to visit and I am looking forward to my next stop in this close-kint and loving community.