Review: Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D Schmidt

My first book of 2016 was an amazing way to start my reading year. I pre-ordered this some time ago, and when I got the email saying it was ready to pick up at my local Waterstones, it was a pleasant reminder of a surprise I’d left myself. I read it in one sitting the evening after I picked it up – after skimming the first couple of pages, I couldn’t put it down.

orbiting jupiter

The story is narrated by twelve year old Jack, who lives on a farm with his parents in Maine. His parents are also foster parents, although they haven’t taken in a foster child for years. But now, they’re taking on Joseph.

Joseph is fourteen years old, has been incarcerated at a place called Stone Mountain for trying to kill a teacher (so he’s told), and he has a three-month-old daughter he has never seen.

This story left my brain humming with thoughts and questions; simultaneously broke my heart and fixed it up. It covers a huge amount of ground and I think makes an amazing book for children to learn about a huge amount of things – relationships with adults and how they can be good and bad, and you don’t have to trust someone just because they’re older than you. About the ‘bad’ kids – and how we can all stand to be a little more sympathetic to other people, whose situation we actually know very little about. Most of all I came out of this book feeling I had learned something about how we treat young people who have had adult experiences.

For me, this story really made me reflect on how wrong we are when we try to treat a child who has had adult experiences like a child. We do it for our own comfort – we assume that it is better for them to be removed from the situation, put them back in their peer group. But they are going to struggle there. It is more a service to the adults around them than the child they think they’re trying to help. It tells us something about what equal opportunities means – and why it matters.

I adored this book down to the ground – heart-wrenching, brilliant but accessible writing, difficult topics made appropriate and approachable for young audiences. It might be a children’s book, sort of, but it’s definitely still got appeal for adults. For a book so short, it made a massive impression on me.

If you’d like to keep up with what I’m currently reading (or with how tidy my tea cupboard is) follow me on Instagram @doodlemolee 

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3 thoughts on “Review: Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D Schmidt

  1. […] Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D Schmidt was my first book in 2016, and heavens, did I start on a fantastic story. This book follows twelve year old Jack when his parents take in foster child Joseph. Joseph is fourteen, and has never seen his baby daughter Jupiter. This story is very short and equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking. Review. […]

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