Title: Orbiting Jupiter
Author: Gary D. Schmidt
Published by: Andersen Press
Publication date: 2nd March 2017
Pages: 192, paperback
Genre: YA, contemporary
A heartbreaking story, narrated by twelve-year-old Jack, whose family is caring for fourteen-year-old Joseph. Joseph is misunderstood. He was incarcerated for trying to kill a teacher. Or so the rumours say. But Jack and his family see something others in town don’t want to.
What’s more, Joseph has a daughter he’s never seen. The two boys go on a journey through the bitter Maine winter to help Joseph find his baby – no matter the cost.
I was intrigued by this book as soon as I read the blurb for the first time, and I knew it would be quite different from the other books I read. Once I started, I was so absorbed in this book that I finished it in virtually one sitting; I could hardly turn the pages fast enough!
I adored the writing style in this book – I thought is was very engaging, and it really put across the voice of Jack, who is only twelve years old. It was also so interesting to follow the story, which was told from Jack’s perspective but really about Joseph; we get to see Joseph develop and grow with his new foster family, and Jack offers a very detailed view as to how he treated by the teachers and pupils once he started school.
The themes in this book are so important. It highlights the prejudice towards Joseph, a fourteen year old boy, just because of his past; the loyalty between Joseph and Jack is brought up again and again as they both consistently have each other’s back. Most of all, this book is about family in so many ways (Joseph and his foster family, Joseph and Jupiter, Joseph and his father), and it is quite unique to anything else I have ever read.
This book has the ability to draw you in very quickly – I became emotionally invested in the story and the characters almost immediately, and I cannot remember the last time a book evoked so much empathy in me. That said, I feel I would enjoyed it even more if it were longer. As I’ve said before, I rarely cry at books, and after finishing Orbiting Jupiter I felt that sad void that comes in place of tears. I think, if the story had been drawn out more, I probably would have bawled my eyes out. Whilst reading it, I thought to myself that it would make for such a touching family film (similar to Bridge to Terabithia).
This book is so heartwarming, and left me bubbling over with feelings. I would recommend this to pretty much anyone, regardless of how old they are or what genres they usually like – it feels like one of those books I could give to my mum and my younger brother and they’d both love it. It is, in my opinion, very accessible in its writing style, yet there also seems to be something quite profound about it, and it will leave you with a lot to think about.
(I received this book during my work experience at Andersen Press, so thank you very much!)