"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"--
Original publication date
In this short novel, clocking in at less than 200 pages, Schmidt is a strong storyteller in capturing how a closed-up, hurting teen can begin to heal when a cow decides he's all right. The chores, a family with members who believe in each other and the changing of the seasons anchor the more outlandish aspects of the book.
Characterization and plot are not as strong as the positive aspects. School administration, young male athlete bullies, an abusive father, rich and distant parents, and a lost love are all cartoonish stereotypes. And they are the ones who drive the plot that beset Joseph with obstacles every time he starts to get over his horrid past.
Jupiter is the daughter Joseph longs for every day. Joseph also is a runner and the kind of kid who has tunnel vision when it comes to the people he feels he has a duty to. Those parts of his character also play into the way his story ends up.
The climax and end are even more outlandish than the set-up of a 13-year-old father who winds up in juvie.
There has to be a better way to write about troubled teens who find themselves in over their heads, harmed by school and legal systems that should protect all children.
When a loving family in Maine decide to take a chance and bring Joseph into their home, for the first time in his life, he is exposed to a "normal" home life. The family is very understanding and patient with him. There is a wonderful way in which Schmidt shows the healing of interactions with animals. And Joseph develops a very tender relationship with Rosie the cow.
When Joseph shares the fact that he loved the girl he impregnated and that there is a little girl in the world as a result of their union. His main goal in life is to be with Jupiter.
Joseph has a lot against him, some of which is his fault, but the fact that he has a worthless, abusive father certainly is out of his control. Sociologists would note that if Joseph had a better upbringing, perhaps the stint in a detention home would not have occurred.
He is intelligent; he knows vulnerability and the ache that results from it; he could have a future if only he could put the bad pieces of life behind and sew a new patch of goodness in the tapestry.
My only quarrel with the book is that the foster family seems to be too perfect. And, the reality is that children that have long, deep scars, do not heal overnight.
Still, Schmidt does continue to shine, and his books are magical.
What a heartbreaking story. It grabbed me as I began to care about these people and worry for them at the same time.
This is a fast read sure to grab the interest of those who like tender heartbreaking stories.
There was something lacking for me, but I can't figure out what it is. This book dealt with heavy issues even though it's a middle grade book, I guess, so maybe the writing didn't really coincide with what the book was about. Maybe it needed to be longer. Or have a bit more depth. The ending was predictable and convenient. But a sad read nonetheless.
The book focuses on two themes: Jack's intense loyalty to his foster brother, always "having his back," and Joseph's obsession with finding the daughter he knows he has, but has never seen. Her name is Jupiter.
"Orbiting Jupiter" is wildly different from Schmidt's "The Wednesday Wars." That Newbery Honor book was hilarious. This book is quite serious. The writing is flawless.
Jack meets his foster brother and only knows that he almost killed a teacher, stayed at a place for difficult kids called Stone Mountain, and has a daughter named Jupiter. Jack and his parents represent good. They take a teen who no one wants and about whom rumors exist. They teach him to milk a cow. This milking time calms Joseph and allows him time with a cow that gives him quiet comfort, something Joseph has never had. No one has ever listened to Joseph, given him time, and gotten to know him and understand him.
School is unpleasant for Joseph. Jack agrees to walk to and from school in the extreme cold just to avoid the bus with the bullies who treat Joseph badly. He has several teachers who see the true Joseph just as Jack and his family do. Unfortunately, he is picked on by default by those who judge without knowing him. Joseph only wants to meet his daughter, but he's not allowed because he's fourteen years old.
This quiet novel evokes a cold climate both literally and figuratively. Joseph lives in the cold--sees and experiences little human warmth until this family. He is obsessed with finding his daughter, whom he loves. I say it reads like a legend because the characters exist in this cold atmosphere with good and "evil" characters. You really don't get to know the characters beyond what they are to represent. We have an implied lesson with this story. You won't feel as if you know these characters as you will feel pulled supernaturally into this world that orbits Jupiter. Like all Gary Schmidt novels, it is well written and worth your time to read. If he writes it, read it!
This book takes place in a rural community that snows. Since i've never seen snow and have never lived in a rural area, I thought it was refreshing and nice to read in the summer heat.
Since this book was short, I thought that the plot was gonna be drawn out but in actuality, everything flowed very nicely. The only time I stopped reading was when I was too tired or when I was crying too much. (I cried twice).
The main characters Jack and Joseph were amazing! I fell in love with both of them. At first, Joseph wasn't my favorite until he told his back story, which made me love him so much more. There only character development came from Jack and Joseph but I didn't mind that. Since it's a shorter book, I didn't expect a whole lot of character development. One thing I thought was really interesting was that the author gave character to a few of the cows, which I loved.
The conflict in the story is really interesting and doesn't feel forced. The characters dealt with everything that was happening in a way that makes sense. I hate when characters in books make decisions that literally no one in the world would make. Even though the story didn't have a happy ending, I was still happy with how everything turned out.
Overall, I definitely think that this book deserves 5 stars. I think it will become one of my favorite books of the year and maybe of all time.