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Orbiting Jupiter

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When Jack meets his new foster brother, he already knows three things about him:

Joseph almost killed a teacher.

He was incarcerated at a place called Stone Mountain.

He has a daughter. Her name is Jupiter. And he has never seen her.

What Jack doesn’t know, at first, is how desperate Joseph is to find his baby girl.

Or how urgently he, Jack, will want to help.

But the past can’t be shaken off. Even as new bonds form, old wounds reopen. The search for Jupiter demands more from Jack than he can imagine.

This tender, heartbreaking novel is Gary D. Schmidt at his best.

183 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 6, 2015

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About the author

Gary D. Schmidt

65 books1,648 followers
Gary D. Schmidt is an American children's writer of nonfiction books and young adult novels, including two Newbery Honor books. He lives on a farm in Alto, Michigan,with his wife and six children, where he splits wood, plants gardens, writes, feeds the wild cats that drop by and wishes that sometimes the sea breeze came that far inland. He is a Professor of English at Calvin College.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,418 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,946 reviews292k followers
February 10, 2017
4 1/2 stars. My god, this book was so sad.

I'm not a book crier. Not really. When I say a book made me cry I usually mean that tears filled my eyes, but that's all. This book, though... I got pretty close a few times and then in the penultimate chapter, I just lost it. I actually felt my face crumple and my nose was stinging.

Now I've painted you that beautiful picture of my breakdown, I'm going to try to review this book. It's not easy. I've loved Schmidt's other YA/Middle Grade contemporary novels - Okay for Now and The Wednesday Wars - each had a sadness to it, but not quite like this one.

Orbiting Jupiter is quiet and simple for the most part, which makes it all the more devastating when the blows come. And come they do. Schmidt has a way of effortlessly drawing out emotions in every scene, without ever making you feel like you're being manipulated. This quiet sadness is more effective than any drama I could read.

The story is narrated by Jack, the 12 year old son of foster parents. When 14 year old Joseph joins their family, his life is changed in many ways and not all of them are good. It actually tells two stories - on the one hand, it's about the power of friendship and *sob* "having someone's back", on the other, it's about Joseph's backstory. I'm not sure which one elicited the greatest emotional response from me.

It made me sad and even angry at times. Joseph - we soon learn - is a 14 year old parent to a baby called Jupiter. Both naive and mature, all he wants is to be with his baby and love her. You understand why being with Joseph is not in Jupiter's best interests, whilst also being heartbroken for him. Especially after learning of his abusive, loveless upbringing.

The author's decision to narrate from Jack's POV gives the novel even more strength. We are not clouded by Joseph's blind love for his baby, but we do also see how powerless children are. We feel their frustrations and sadness.

As we reached the novel's climax, I thought I had mixed feelings about the way it was ending, but that last part completely won me over. I recommend this to everyone who enjoys contemporary YA/Middle Grade.*

*The characters are young but it has as much depth as any YA book.

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Profile Image for jessica.
2,509 reviews31k followers
February 13, 2019
this book is short. its only about 200 pages and it took me less than an hour to read. the writing is very straightforward and easy. but this book is anything but simple. its a story of the highest quality.

and the overwhelming value of this story outweighs any of its slightness. because i cannot describe how profoundly this moved me, especially the last two chapters.

this book is proof that stories do not need to be long and extravagant or deep with hidden meanings. some of the most touching stories are those that are humble and speak plainly. the kind of stories that dont beg for attention, and yet strongly influence the reader regardless. <3

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
832 reviews3,724 followers
February 15, 2021

This book takes all your certainties and let them shaken to the core.

This book quietly breaks your heart through and through... but rarely characters managed to make me feel a love so bright, so pure and real.

This book doesn't need quirky teenagers or fantastic settings to enthrall you, but pictures real life issues with such honestly and tenderness.

This book doesn't do purple prose, clever metaphors, and yet I love this writing to pieces for the powerful way it conveys emotions, quietly, so, so quietly.

This book is aimed to middle-grade readers and yet I could name a thousand adults books that can't even come close to these boys so full of life and despair and longing and whose smiles mean so much.

One might say that its characterization suffered from its shortness, and really, I get that : I can't deny that Jack's family looks a little too perfect and on the contrary Joseph's father reeks too much of evil. I suppose that the only thing I can say is that it worked for me nonetheless? I know that some people are so fucked-up that they seem rotten to the core and I want to believe that there are people out there who genuinely want to help others without waiting for anything in return. Sue me.

One might say that the climax is manipulative, and by all means, perhaps it is. Honestly? I just don't give a damn, because I cared for each and every one of these characters from page one, I smiled with them, I cried for them and the book didn't earn my rating in the end. It earn it all the way.

This book deserves a real review I might write at some point - don't hold your breath, though. I might never find the right words and leave it as it is. If so, I'm sorry.

► This book, though? I won't forget it. It might not be for everyone, but it was oh so right for me.

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~.
347 reviews923 followers
December 5, 2017
If there is a benevolent, all-powerful God, then why does He allow evil to persist?

This is the question that this short book made me ponder.

I once saw an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson in which he expressed that the existence of a God that is both omnipotent & benevolent is in itself contradictory to the existence of evil in the world.

God must therefore be one or the other; He must either be all powerful with a capacity for allowing evil, or he must be all benevolent without the ability to intercept evil.

From a logical standpoint, I can identify with this line of thinking. Being confronted with the sad, and often unfair presence of tragedy always inspires me to contemplate the existence of God. But don't let me give you a false impression, this isn't a book that deeply focuses on the existence of God.

This is a book for those of us out there with parents who failed to love their child more than themselves, with teachers who failed to see the seeds destruction blooming in the hearts of their students, with friends who failed to see the need for empathy.

But beneath the surface of all that pain, there is an everpresent hope.

This is a book about the depth & permanence of love.

This is a book about the generational cycle of brokenness.

This is a book about what it means to be selfless.

Though it was heartbreaking, I'm very glad I read Orbiting Jupiter. It's a short novel packing a heavy punch, and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes to read.
Profile Image for Drew.
449 reviews504 followers
June 21, 2016
“He really could have been any other eighth-grade kid at Eastham Middle School. Except he had a daughter.”

How do I even write this review?

I love books, in case you hadn't noticed. I dedicate so much of my time to reading because I am constantly searching for those exciting stories with living, breathing characters. Yet out of all the novels I've read, only one I've ever come across has made me cry.

I sniffled at the end of Allegiant and A Monster Calls, but the book that really did it for me was The Fault in Our Stars. For the longest time, that was the only book that was able to make me cry.

Now there are two. What can I say? This book broke me. It ripped my cold, emotionless heart right in two. Schmidt delivered a powerful and original story that played on all of my emotions.

From the first chapter when Jack and his sweet farming family were introduced, to the addition of Joseph's character, a fourteen-year-old who was in juvenile prison, I was totally absorbed in the story. My pulse raced when Joseph got in a fistfight, I was angry when teachers were unfair to him because of his background, and it warmed my heart when Jack's family treated him so kindly.

I never stopped wanting Joseph to see his daughter, Jupiter, whom he's never met before. It broke my heart when he told Jack about his abusive father and Maddie. With all of these emotions combined into an amazing story, no wonder it made me cry.

The writing and plot weren't complicated and there were only about 180 pages—what I would call a ridiculously short novel. But I think some of the simplest stories can be the most effective.

Orbiting Jupiter provided an emotional punch but not in a cheap, manipulative way. It was subtle and raw. I loved Joseph and his quiet inner struggles that were so obvious. I loved Jack's compassion and the boys' relationship that grew into something stronger than friendship. They had each other's back.

“I can’t see Jupiter,” Joseph said. “The moon’s too bright. And I don’t know where she is.”
Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,239 followers
March 23, 2017
Very beautiful and heartbreaking. Orbiting Jupiter is the story of a fourteen year old boy, Joseph, who was in prison and is now joining the twelve year old narrator Jack's family as a foster child. Between these boys, we learn what it means to have someone's back and how powerful friendship can be. We slowly learn Joseph's backstory including the fact that he has a baby daughter, Jupiter, he has never even seen. This is a very quick read and has the message of getting to know someone before judging them. The setting is very realistic with the palpable frigid air. Though the writing is simple, it works perfectly in this middle grade novel. Schmidt successfully evokes emotions I wasn't aware I had without feeling manipulative.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,415 reviews7,421 followers
June 8, 2017
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

“Christmas is the season for miracles, you know. Sometimes they come big and loud, I guess – but I’ve never seen one of those. I think probably most miracles are a lot smaller, and sort of still, and so quiet, you could miss them. I didn’t miss this one.”

Palm Springs commercial photography

WTF have you done to me, Anna? Good grief. I had feelings two days in a row. My robot heart is obviously in need of a tune-up.

Orbiting Jupiter begins with Jack’s family making a very important decision – that of bringing a troubled foster child into their home. You then are introduced to Joseph – and your guts get ripped from your body instantaneously . . .

“Since he left Stone Mountain, 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.”

Eventually you learn all of Joseph’s story, including not only how he ended up in juvie, but also how at 14 he became a father to a baby girl named Jupiter . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography

You read about the bond of friendship and the true meaning of having someone’s back . . .

“You want to tell me what a sixth grader was doing in the eighth-grade side of the locker room, in an eighth-grade fight?”


Oh Jack . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography

And you discover that you should always trust a cow’s opinion of strangers . . .

If you’re an adult, you probably will end up finding the ending more than a bit contrived . . . but this story wasn’t really written for grown-ups to begin with and it still won’t stop the onslaught of feelings you’ve had up to that point. If icewater runs in your veins like it does mine, you may not cry, but you might find you still need a bit of “moral support” to get through the rest of the evening . . . .

I fell in love with Gary Schmidt when I read Okay For Now (I read that before I wrote imaged up book reviews so Anna’s getting a double-whammy of linkage). I’m going to put it on record that I think he writes the most important middle-grade books that I’ve ever read and rather than “required” reading consisting of bullshit like Marie Antoinette: Serial Killer my kids (*cough* all kids *cough*) should be reading Schmidt’s books instead. He makes you think – he makes you feel – and he makes you see the not-so-pretty side of growing up . . . but he manages to do it in a child-friendly way.
Profile Image for ZOË.
192 reviews160 followers
November 5, 2022
WOW. The fact that a one hour reading experience could make me cry like that is honestly impressive; for such a short book, “orbiting jupiter” certainly packs a punch!

I will say there were certain parts of this that I found a bit cringy or hard to believe, but that aside, this blew me away. Jackie’s simplistic narration was done beautifully and his to-the-point way of seeing the world didn’t take away from any of the poignant moments in the story. The metaphor of Jupiter (both as a planet and as Joseph’s daughter) throughout, especially towards the end, brought me to tears.

“Jupiter. I promise I’ll always know where you are.”

Break my heart, why don’t you??

I doubt this book will make much of a lasting impact on me, but it’s incredible for what it is and would certainly recommend it to anyone who needs an excuse to let some tears out!
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
August 29, 2016
I read this in 2015 and it was one of my favorite books of the year. I just read it again for a YA class and will amend the review a little to account for my current view of it.

I quote Richie Partington's review: "Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy; The Wednesday Wars; and Trouble are three well-known historical novels for young people by Gary D. Schmidt. Each of the three contains a complex, exceptionally well-drawn father character. Each of the three fictional fathers exhibits notable blind spots and character flaws. These sophisticated portrayals of father characters are one of the reasons that Gary Schmidt is one of my all-time favorite authors."

Ditto for me. This has been described as the third in a trilogy, but if so, it is a loosely based trilogy, which sort of begins (order doesn't really matter, maybe?) with Wednesday Wars, continues with Okay for Now, and concludes with Orbiting Jupiter . In all three of these books there are characters from the same fictional Vermont town. Minor characters from one book become more central characters in the next book. Themes interlock, as Partington alludes to, above. You don't need to have read any of the others to get what is going on. These books are for middle school, I think, though tweens also read and love them.

I am somewhat influenced in my reading of this book by my former student's--Emily, an English teacher--fine MA thesis on this book, so since I liked the thesis I have read from Emily, I am sometimes sharing insights she has put forth, and will try to credit her, but I say nothing I don't believe.

This novel is about fatherhood, parenting, brotherhood, and love, but principally it's a book about grace. About grace, and/or something that Schmidt calls "greater love." All of Schmidt's books are about grace, seems to me. And the opposite of grace, too, the horrors that young people face as they grow up without decent parenting, guidance, love. The book works as Schmidt usually does through repetition of images, humor, and parallelism. I can't show you some of the key parallels without spoilers, but an early dramatic incident at an icy river is the precursor to something that happens later in the book. Contrasts happen, to help you see what this grace might be about, yet I wouldn't call the book didactic.

What we know at the outset is that 14 year old Joseph has been released from prison for attempting to kill his teacher. We later find out why, but hearing this information doesn't make us or anyone in this town likely to be particularly sympathetic to him. We know these stories of classroom violence from the news, and there's no excuse for it. When we read these things in the paper, we think, or some us think: Monsters. Joseph is also the father of a baby, Jupiter, and the son of an abusive father. Jupiter was born to 13 year old Maddie, who (spoiler alert) died of complications giving birth. He loved Maddie and his rage in part derives from that loss, of course. He's moved into a foster family's farm after being released from prison, and he thus becomes the brother of Jack, 12, who "has his back" right from the beginning. Joseph goes to school and does well,and he learns to milk and love cows, and he's both supported (by a few) and bullied/shunned (by most) in school and his new town, but his main goal in life is to find Jupiter, who has herself been put in foster care in lieu of adoption. What does it mean to be a father? Can Joseph be a father? Can a foster parent be a father to Joseph? What does it in fact mean to be a father? Is it a name on a birth certificate, or something else? Can Jack's Dad be a better Dad for Joseph than Joseph's biologcal father? How do you get to be a "brother"?

I loved Okay for Now, and Wednesday Wars, which layered things throughout the central story like Shakespeare, baseball, and art, and masterfully. So when I didn't see these same kinds of layers quite as much in Orbiting Jupiter, I felt initially a little like it was a fault. Like it was too lean, not substantial enough. This is how English types are about books sometimes. The more complex the better. But this book is more direct, less metaphorical, and I don't think it is a fault, finally, that there are fewer layers of meaning. There's the repeated mention of a book Joseph is reading, Octavian Nothing, which is relevant, but there's not much else in the way of extra-narrative thematic links as with the other books. The planet Jupiter is Jospeh's favorite, and it's the name of his daughter. It's like it was written in a kind of white heat, without artifice, more direct. Leaner, and maybe meaner, closer to the core, the source, soul. Obviously the grace and fatherhood issues are everywhere, though.

Part of what makes me think that one reason for the "less literariness" is that Schmidt lost his wife on Christmas eve a couple of years ago. That loss permeates this work, as he says, in an interview. Orbiting Jupiter takes place in the fall leading to Christmas. Joseph and Maddie's giving birth to Jupiter parallels the Joseph and Mary story, in certain ways, and Joseph hears this story in church Christmas eve, and queries the minister about the story, one he had never heard, never having been to church growing up. At the end of the service, Joseph walks up to Pastor Ballou and asks him how much of the story is true.

“I think it all has to be true, or none of it,” he said.
“The angels?” said Joseph. “Really?”
“Why would you not believe it?” said Reverend Ballou.
“Because bad things happen,” said Joseph. “If there were angels, then bad things wouldn’t happen.”
“Maybe angels aren’t always meant to stop bad things.”
“So what good are they?”
“To be with us when bad things happen.”
Joseph looked at him.
“Then where the hell were they?” he said.
I thought Reverend Ballou was going to start bawling.
And that was the end of our Christmas Eve service at new First Congregational (Orbiting 69).

I think Schmidt knows something about love and grace, and also has to deal with the fact that bad things sometimes happen to good people like himself, and kids like Joseph. Where God is in a sometimes terrible world is a question anyone must reasonably ask, I think. But Jack and his family have an answer to that, and a powerful one. And I'm not at all religious anymore, though I grew up in the same faith Schmidt did. But read it to find out.

Cows and milking play a part in this story that I like. The cows "speak" without words, and this is in part what Schmidt has in mind, I think, when he writes about grace and love. Ach, I can't say much else without spoilers! Except this is a lovely, lovely moving book, for maybe fifth grade through high school readers. And me. So, so much for me.
Profile Image for Sarah Churchill.
470 reviews1,174 followers
December 9, 2015
Why are all the books out to break me?!

I feel numb. For a middlegrade this is incredibly deep and touching, it will forever change the way I look at 'trouble kids' and I WANT TO HUG JOSEPH!

There isn't really anything I can add other than the synopsis without spoiling anything, so I won't. Just know that 192 pages can do a lot.
Profile Image for Jen .
2,502 reviews27 followers
September 24, 2015
This book WRECKED me. It played my emotions like I was a Strad violin and the author a prodigy musician. Seriously, you need to read this book and you need to read it NOW.

Et hem. Excuse me. Let me start again. Please note I will be vague, as I do not want to spoil this book for anyone.

The narrator of the book is a 12 year old boy, living in Maine with his parents on a farm. They foster a 14 year old boy who has a heart of gold and has been through the wringer re: crappy abusive ignorant parent, heart-break and being on the wrong side of the law. Almost everyone judges him without bothering to get to know him. He's pigeon-holed and stereotyped and it's just plum SAD.

Since the narrator is a 12 year old boy, the writing is sparse and direct. The setting is real. You can seriously feel the cold biting at your nose and fingers and toes and you can hear the lowing of the cows in the barn.

This book is nothing short of fantastic. You have peaks and valleys, hope, despair, back to hope and darkness and light again. It's amazing how much is packed into the rather short page count.

This is being marketed as a kids' book and I sort of can see that, but it has a LOT of adult issues in it. They are filtered through a 12 year old and he is a very realistic preteen in his own way, so some of it comes out unintentionally funny, such as when an adult curses in front of him, the narrator says something along the lines of, "He used words I wasn't allowed to say." and "He used some words I didn't know."

This book is just so well crafted. I am SO glad that I read it. It sounded interesting, but I hadn't heard much about it. Now I can't stop talking about it to everyone I meet.

Five humongous, smiling through the tears (you WILL need tissues while reading this book) stars. I highly recommend it for EVERYone. I loved it.

My eternal thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group for and eARC copy of this book to read and review.
Profile Image for Sierra.
292 reviews20 followers
April 29, 2020
This book was a masterpiece. I loved everything about it. I really loved how Jack's family had adopted Joseph with no problems and how they didn't want to take no for an answer. Joseph was rude somethings but that's because he never had actually anyone to be there to care for him. All Joseph wanted to see was his daughter that was taken away from him. All he had was one measly picture of her and it was the best that he could do for a while. Jupiter was a beautiful name for his daughter. I thought that it was sweet that Maria had named their daughter after Joseph's favorite planet. Jack always had his back and you could tell no one had ever before. Everyone was scared of Joseph because he was an 8th grader with a kid and was always getting into trouble. Jack was never scared of him and he finally had a brother to look up to.
When I read that Joseph had died because his father drove his truck into the river I cried silent tears because I was surrounded by people. Joseph will never get to see his daughter, or his new family ever again. He only went with his father to protect them. He will never get to go to college, milk the cows, or do anything he loved ever again thanks to his father.
I started to cry again when I read that Jack's family had adopted Jupiter. At least now she will get to hear how great her father was from a family that loved him even though he was no longer there.

Quotes I liked or loved:

1,) “You know how teachers are. If they get you to take out a book they love too, they're yours for life.”

2.) “So you want to tell me what a sixth grader was doing in the eighth-grade side of the locker room, in a eighth-grade fight?" he said.
"Winning," I said.”

3.) “We were just about the last ones to leave. Reverend Ballou took Joseph’s hand to shake it, and Joseph said, “How much of that story is true?” Reverend Ballou considered this. “I think it all has to be true, or none of it,” he said. “The angels?” said Joseph. “Really?” “Why not?” said Reverend Ballou. “Because bad things happen,” said Joseph. “If there were angels, then bad things wouldn’t happen.” “Maybe angels aren’t always meant to stop bad things.” “So what good are they?” “To be with us when bad things happen.” Joseph looked at him. “Then where the hell were they?” he said. I thought Reverend Ballou was going to start bawling.”

4.) “You can tell all you need to know about someone from the way cows are around him.”

5.) “Joseph just listened. It was like he was dragging every word about Jupiter into himself so he could remember it and treasure it in his heart.”

6.) “« Around and around, and the sharp stars watched. And the low moon. And Jupiter over the mountains. »”
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Stewart.
171 reviews1 follower
October 22, 2015
This could have been so, so much better- and nearly was, until three-quarters of the way through, when all of the plot devices you're hoping weren't going to be pulled out suddenly are, and the book ends on an almost insultingly predictable way. This had all the makings of a truly amazing book- the writing, in particular, was so different from Schmidt's earlier books- haunting, spare, simple language. The characters remained a bit underdeveloped, but in a good way, like acquaintances rather than close friends. Setting is likewise sparse, and everything is just slightly left vague, like the foggy jacket photo. So why do I feel so utterly manipulated by this book? I guessed the minute that Chekhov's Rotten Bridge showed up, remarked upon in a throwaway comment near the beginning of the book, that
Profile Image for ☮Karen.
1,464 reviews9 followers
March 19, 2017
This was just a wonderful YA book, and yes it has affected me emotionally and deeply. A 14 year old boy fathered a baby daughter, got into some trouble at school, was sent to a juvenile detention center, and then into foster care with a loving farm family. Now his greatest desire is to be with his daughter, Jupiter, named after his favorite planet and also in foster care. Joseph's yearning to be with Jupiter reminded me so much of the great Aerosmith song I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing that I just had to include the refrain here:

"Don't wanna close my eyes
I don't wanna fall asleep
'Cause I'd miss you, baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing.
'Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream would never do
I'd still miss you, baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing."

I'd always heard that Steven Tyler wrote this song especially for his baby daughter Liv, but apparently that was just a rumor. He didn't write it, and the only connection to Liv Tyler is her movie Armegeddon. Regardless, it's a beautiful thing and always brings tears to my eyes, like this book did.

Here's the YouTube video of the song so you can get all emotional too: https://youtu.be/JkK8g6FMEXE
...from the movie, where they're orbiting the moon and earth.
Profile Image for Morgan .
794 reviews131 followers
May 23, 2021
This is a very small book only 183 pages, double spaced. Easy read in one sitting. But it is in no way a small story.

I did not find it YA-ish just because the main character, Joseph, is a thirteen year old boy and his foster brother is a couple years younger.

The content of the story deals with grown-up situations that most people could relate to – even if you’re old (like me).

It is a story about family and friendship and understanding.
Profile Image for Jahanzaib Asim.
101 reviews61 followers
April 24, 2017
i fuc*ing hate everyone.
i hate hate hate hate everyone.
I'm just going to cry myself to sleep now...
Angels, where the hell were you?
Profile Image for Ishika .
198 reviews518 followers
January 10, 2022
“Then I’ll be praying for Joseph Brook. And for you, too, Jack Brook.”
“Hurd. Jackson Hurd,” said my mother.
Pastor Greenleaf looked at me. “The boy isn’t your brother?” he said.
“I have his back,” I said.

Damn! this book- I have tears in my eyes rn. Everyone said that it was going to be emotional and like always I didn't believe them.

It was a very short book with a very good plot and a very good message. In this book we have 14 year old Joseph who's sent to live with 12 year old Jack's parents. Joseph has a daughter named Jupiter whom he loves more than anything even though he haven't seen her except in a photograph which he keeps in his wallet.

This book is all about friendships and how blood relations aren't everything for the other person to have their back. Jack might not be his real brother, Jack's parents might not be his real parents, but they are the closet thing to a family. I loved how the cows were depicted in this book, how they were shown to have emotions and how you don't have to be an animal to understand what they like and what they don't. The people in this book are the reason why faith in humanity still exists.

This might be the best book I've read so far this year so if you are reading this review then trust me, you might love this book.
Profile Image for disco.
560 reviews221 followers
March 8, 2019
What a perfect, sad, humanizing, little book. If you are ever in the mood to cry – now’s your chance.

The book mentions a Brunswick Librarian … how freaking weird is that? TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT.
Profile Image for Karin.
Author 15 books228 followers
June 22, 2015
Absolutely gut wrenching. I easily fell in love with Joseph and his foster family. If only all foster kids could be so lucky to get a family like this. And Jack! Can't say enough about him. Immediately ready to go to bat for Joseph! This is definitely one you need to put on your tbr pile.
Profile Image for Brandy Painter.
1,583 reviews217 followers
October 4, 2015
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

I was very much looking forward to Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt because I generally really enjoy Gary Scmidt's books. After reading the first chapter, I was certain that this one would wreck me emotionally. Possibly more than any other. I wasn't wrong. But I also wasn't right. I was expecting a good sort of emotionally destroyed. A Code Name Verity type of emotionally destroyed. That's not what I got.

Jack lives a quiet sheltered life on his parents' farm in Maine until his family takes in a 14 year old foster kid named Joseph. Joseph became a father at 13 and was sent to a Juvenile Detention Center. Broken and sad, Joseph's one dream is to be reunited with his infant daughter, Jupiter. Jack's life is changed by seeing his school, town, and life in general through Joseph's eyes.

The harsh events of Joseph's life is all too realistic. He is an abused child who was screwed over by the system on pretty much every level imaginable. He is incredibly smart particularly when it comes to Math. He really and truly loved Jupiter's mom and only wants to take care of his baby.

Jack is greatly impacted by the tragedy in Joseph's life. He wants to be his friend and have his back. He stands up for him at school and tries to keep him from getting hurt. He is haunted by the words Joseph speaks during his nightmares at night. The relationship that develops between the two of them is an interesting one. Joseph is not really sure what to do with Jack at first, but he begins to share parts of his life with him and give him advice.

While I found all of the events of Orbiting Jupiter to be incredibly realistic, I can not say the same for the characters. There are far too many perfect people inhabiting this book. And the characters who aren't perfect are horribly cliché in their awfulness. Jack and his parents are amazing, and there are truly amazing foster families in this world. I know. I'm friends with many of them, but no one is perfect. Everyone has their breaking points and resentments in these situations. That none of them ever came out made it hard to swallow. Then there is Joseph himself who is not responsible for pretty much any of the terrible that has befallen him. He got a girl pregnant. Her parents were displeased. Everything else is not on him. The book goes out of its way to make him a helpless innocent victim of the system. This is particularly annoying given the conclusion of the book. I would say more about why this bothers me, but can't due to spoilers. In the end I found the book to be emotionally manipulative rather than emotive.

I read an ARC provided by the publisher, Clarion Books, via Edelweiss. Orbiting Jupiter goes on sale October 6th.
Profile Image for tiffany.
258 reviews90 followers
February 21, 2019
i cried,,, to say this storyline and writing is just beautiful would be an understatement.

this book is pretty short but really complex and layered. it said everything it needed in just under two hundred pages. the amount of character and plot development is astonishing for such a short book.
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,205 followers
Want to read
February 12, 2019
sounds interesting, might pick this up
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,083 reviews17.3k followers
August 22, 2017
Orbiting Jupiter is one of the saddest books I've read in my entire life, and I don't say that lightly. It is meant to make you sob, and it will. This book follows Jack and his foster brother Joseph, a 14-year-old boy who has a daughter he's never met.

Usually I'd take issue with this kind of book for the emotional manipulation. However, the emotional realness of this one definitely stands out. It's quietly sad. The characters never tell you to feel– you just feel anyway. I didn't feel manipulated at all. The themes of friendship and love are so fleshed out. I couldn't look away.

I have to admit this book is a bit too short. The characters aren't totally fleshed out; they feel real, but none of them feel quite as fleshed out as I would've preferred.

My major issue is possibly the ending. There are major spoilers ahead in this paragraph, so if you have any intention of reading this book stop reading this review and add this book to your tbr.

That being said, the pure emotional content here is absolutely worth a read. Highly recommended.
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