Monday, October 24, 2016

Book Review: "Orbiting Jupiter" by Gary D. Schmidt

Our narrator is 12 year old Jack who tells the story of when Joseph came to live with his family.  Joseph is fourteen, in the state's care after a juvenile facility and he is a father of a baby girl he's never seen.  Joseph doesn't talk about what happened in the facility, but rumor has it that he tried to kill a teacher.  He definitely has his guard up, and is obsessed with the idea of his daughter.  Eventually, Joseph begins to trust Jack and his family... and asks for their help in finding his baby girl.

I had heard about this book about a year ago, and I was intrigued.  I remembered how much I liked Okay for Now and wanted to read more.  I didn't even know that a character from that book would reappear here!

This is definitely written for the younger teen, a reluctant reader or a lower level reader but its appeal will stretch farther than that.  It was great to see how most (if not all the main characters) stuck to what they knew and felt was right and fought for them.  The antagonists were realistic (although Joseph's dad was a tad cliche) and developed enough to feel disgusted by their behavior.  I also liked that this was set in Maine farmland in the fall and winter.  That setting just amplified the desperateness of Joseph's situation.  Unfortunately, I really did not like the ending.  It just seemed to go a little too far, and little too much reaching for that kind of conclusion.

I should probably mention that yes, the 14 year old kid is a father.  It is a tragedy.  And while you do find out how it happens, it is treated with zero graphical description.  It is all implied, and done so with a modesty that helps support Joseph as an innocent person who felt love for the first time ever.

Orbiting Jupiter
by Gary D. Schmidt
Clarion Books, 2015
192 pages
Source:  Gift


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