Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Thank you to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group and Clarion Books for the ARC, Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt. Gary D. Schmidt’s books never disappoint and this book will stay with the reader, tugging at heartstrings, probing the depths of love and loss, teaching that life matters above all. Even though this book is geared toward junior high (middle school); teen readers and adults (teachers, school nurses, guidance counselors) need to read this book too. Jack is a sixth grade student and Joseph is in eighth grade but the life lessons will speak to a very wide audience. As I read this book, I was reminded of Bobby and Feather’s story, First Part Last by Angela Johnson. Students love urban fiction because it is diverse and speaks to them about what really goes on in their world. Orbiting Jupiter is similar (even though the characters are white farmers) with ripped from today’s headlines gritty social problems kids will identify with and discuss. When Jack and his parents agree to foster Joseph, they have no idea how much he will need them, nor do they have any idea how critically their lives will be affected by Joseph’s life before and after he comes to live with them. This slim book (179 pages) has spare, taut, but effective vocabulary (and short powerful sentences) that will keep readers turning the pages as this gripping novel deals with thirteen year old, Joseph, who becomes a father and desperately wants to care for his adored baby daughter, Jupiter, against a system that conspires to thwart him at every turn. What will happen when Jack and his parents support Joseph’s love for Jupiter? A compelling, aching book EVERYONE MUST READ!!! Highly recommended.
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