Review – Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
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.
Publisher – Andersen Press
Date Published – 31 December 2015
Pages – 192 pages
Format – Hardback
Category – Contemporary YA
I was sent a copy of this book to review by the wonderful Harriet at Andersen Press! This does not affect my review or my opinions in any way and am delighted to write an honest review. Thank you for sending this to me to read!
** Please note Tales Of Yesterday Reviews are written as spoiler free as possible**
“Sometimes it’s like that. You know something good is coming, and even though it’s not even close yet, still, just knowing it’s coming is enough”
When Harriet at Andersen Press contacted me about this book her email was filled with so much love that I simply said yes to a copy immediately.
Orbiting Jupiter may be a short contemporary YA read, but it certainly hit me with all the feels all at once which will stay with me for quite some time.
Orbiting Jupiter is a story about love, family and friendship and a message of never giving up on what you believe in no matter what. I smiled, I shed tears and I felt so much love for these characters. In fact thinking about it now is making me emotional all over again.
The story is told from the point of view of 12 year old Jack whose parents foster a 14 year old child called Joseph and he comes to live with them on their farm. Joseph has had a heartbreakingly difficult childhood and circumstances prior to being fostered led him to spend some time in a juvenile prison which only caused him further damage. Jack tells the story of getting to know this new member of the family and to understand Joseph’s past and situation. Joseph finally has a family filled with love, a routine and responsibility, but the one thing Joseph wants more than anything is to find his baby daughter, Jupiter, who he has never met. Even if that means confronting demons from his past.
The ending in the book broke me completely.
Joseph simply wants to be loved and beneath the surface he has so much love to give. After an abusive and seemingly loveless upbringing he wants to feel part of something. To have hope and love unconditionally. This is something he feels deep inside for his own daughter although they have never met.
“I can’t see Jupiter,” Joseph said. “The moon’s too bright. And I don’t know where she is.”
The complex situation with Joseph, his childhood, his daughters young mother and their parents is explained also so that the reader sees all sides of the coin and an all rounded view but in a way that is easily understood and full of truth and emotion.
As well as the story leading us to gradually learn about Joseph’s back story it is also a story about Jack and his family getting to know Joseph and to show him unconditional love. I loved Jack as a character. Whilst all of the small town that they live in, the teachers at school and the bullies and class mates seem to pre judge and label Joseph without trying to get to know him, Jack makes the effort to get to know Joseph and to understand him and “have his back” at all times to protect him. The relationship that builds between them touched me to the core.
One of my favourite scenes is the daily walk to school where the two of them always stop to throw stones at the church bell tower. Such a simple scene but as the story goes on it is almost like a comfort to both boys and something that helps them bond. I also loved the way Joseph bonds with one of the cows on the family farm and it gives him something to focus on.
“You can tell all you need to know about someone from the way cows are around him”
I think that’s the thing with this book it is so completely simplistically beautiful and grabs your heart from the get go and never lets go.
I’ve not read anything by Gary Schmidt prior to reading this book. Schmidt’s writing in Orbiting Jupiter, whilst it took me a little while to get used to the style, every sentence seems to be packed with emotion and perfectly crafted to give the reader the sense of the feelings and emotions of the characters, but from the point of view of 12 year old Jack. The writing explores how he is feeling and what he is experiencing, but also Jack tells us exactly how Joseph is feeling in such a caring nurturing way full of curiosity and weariness at first and then love, care and concern as the story unfolds.
Selfishly I would have liked the story to have been longer and slightly more in depth and the complexities and story and characters explored more, but that’s why I say selfishly. I think I just craved more and wanted to hold onto these characters for longer than the time I had.
Orbiting Jupiter is just as simplistic and beautiful as it is sad and heart-breaking. Friendship, family, unconditional love and hope. It will make you smile, it will make you angry, it will make you cry, but most of all it will leave you with the feeling that no matter what some things are worth fighting for.
“Maybe angels aren’t always meant to stop bad things.”
“So what good are they?”
“To be with us when bad things happen.”
I award this book 4 out of 5 Tales Of Yesterday Books!
You can buy a copy of Orbiting Jupiter here
About Gary D.Schmidt
You can find out more about Gary D. Schmidt on his website here
Have you read Orbiting Jupiter? What did you think? Has this review convinced you to pick up a copy and read? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment by clicking the reply button at the top of this page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy