Jack, 12, tells the gripping story of Joseph, 14, who joins his family as a foster child. Damaged in prison, Joseph wants nothing more than to find his baby daughter, Jupiter, whom he has never seen. When Joseph has begun to believe he’ll have a future, he is confronted by demons from his past that force a tragic sacrifice.
Before Reading Orbiting Jupiter I had only read one book of Gary D. Schmidt’s, The Wednesday Wars. I really liked The Wednesday Wars because it’s technically historical fiction, and even though it’s targeted at a pretty young audience, it deals with real stories which are presented in a comprehensible tone. So naturally when I read the narrative of Orbiting Jupiter I was intrigued and wondered if the author would continue his theme of using true-to-life events to create a moving story.
For me Orbiting Jupiter was an extremely short read. And although I usually prefer longer books I feel that this book carried its heartbreaking plot beautifully as a short novel. I loved how Schmidt was able to create characters with personality and emotions that reflect real people. The characters make blunt comments and say stereotypical things that fit the moment even if they don’t necessarily mean what they say, which makes the conversations sound mirrored to those of real people.
I also really enjoyed that the story wasn’t told from the eyes of the main character, but rather from the eyes of an observer. Arguably though, maybe Joseph wasn’t the main character but a lens through which Jack is able to gain a new perspective. The feeling of the book in the end was deep enough to invoke Book Death.*
*Book Death: The feeling of emptiness after finishing a book. The uncertainty caused by cliffhanger endings. The wonder of “Well what happens now?” And the grief caused by the thought of the characters being gone until you read their story again. These are all symptoms of Book Death. The suggested method of getting over this condition is reading more and more until you can never stop. Ever!