Serenity, South Carolina is a small town with a big heart. When a lonely young girl named Misty is the target of vicious bullying, her high school teacher, doctor, and a group of older women who call themselves the Sweet Magnolias come together to confront the problem in Catching Fireflies. With their support, Misty finds the courage to confront her bullies and blossoms despite the cruelty she has endured.
Such novels could come across heavy-handed, and this one does at times, but to Sherryl Woods’ credit, she created characters the reader could feel emotionally invested in and portrayed the complexities of bullying in a very real way. Annabelle, the story’s antagonist, is in many ways a victim herself, as her mother’s overbearing presence pushes her to meanness, and the adult characters face the ghosts of their past in regard to the torment Misty has suffered. Catching Fireflies is a well-intentioned story, one that gives everyday headlines a heart, and I’m not sure that bullying is a theme that can be tackled without at least a little preaching. Sherryl Woods did the best she could to let teenagers know that they’re not alone, and perhaps more adults need to follow her example.
3 1/2 out of 5 stars.