Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt is a heartfelt middle-grade read. I don’t normally read too many middle-grade books but this one was amazing.
And….WOW. First of all this book is short, I read it in about an hour.
The story is told from the perspective of Jack, 12, who tells the gripping story of Joseph, 14, who joins his family on their rural farm as a foster child. Damaged in juvenile prison, Joseph wants nothing more than to find his baby daughter, Jupiter, whom he has never seen. Adjusting to life on the farm (and life in general after Juvie) is hard for Joseph who is unsure how to act in the world in light of his past. When Joseph has begun to believe he’ll have a future, he is confronted by demons from his past that force a tragic sacrifice.
This novel might not appeal to some readers for a few reasons
1 )It obviously takes place in a pre-technology world (before cell phones, computers etc.)
2) The language and story-telling is simple
HOWEVER, I think that Schmidt used this form of setting/storytelling to produce a novel that is purely emotion. Jack’s brother-like relationship that he forms with Joseph is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.
Although the ending bothered me a little bit (simply because all of the characters in the novel follow a cliche path) it was still brilliant and emotional.