I’m not sure if award-winning author Gary D. Schmidt’s 2015 novel Orbiting Jupiter is supposed to be Young Adult or Middle Grade, but either way it’s a terrific albeit heart-wrenching tale which I read in one sitting.
Jack is just 12 when Joseph, 14, comes to live on his family’s organic farm in Maine because his parents have a reputation for successfully fostering difficult kids.
…he won’t wear anything orange. He won’t let anyone stand behind him. He won’t let anyone touch him. He won’t go into rooms that are too small. And he won’t eat canned peaches.
“He has a daughter.”
Despite his troubled past, Joseph is not a delinquent. It is clear he’s been dealt a shitty hand, but his quiet determination soon wins over his foster family as well as a couple teachers at his school. Honestly, it was impossible not to like Joseph, which is what makes the story so tragic.
Another reason to like this novel is Jack. Although he is younger than Joseph and certainly far less experienced, his hopefulness and loyalty to his new ‘brother’ grounds the novel. He catalogues the times Joseph smiles (or almost smiles) and is constantly reminding Joseph that his name is Jack not Jackie, but their banter and their silences is certainly indicative of two boys who care for each other.
Orbiting Jupiter is a thoughtful, quiet and heart-breaking book and I highly recommend it.