Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt [Review]

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“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 don’t know how to say anything about this book without doing it injustice. But I’m going to try anyway.

Orbiting Jupiter starts out with Jack, 12 years old, and his family about to adopt Joseph, 14. We learn at the outset that Joseph has been in a juvenile center, has almost killed a teacher, and has a three-month old baby girl named Jupiter, which he wasn’t allowed to see. Jack’s family tries to give Joseph all the love and care they could. The two boys go to school and develop a beautiful relationship. But there’s one thing that Joseph really wants: to see his daughter.

Telling the story from Jack’s point of view had a really sensitive impact on me. There was enough innocence in his voice to see Joseph, his family, and their teachers in the wide eyes of a child. But there was also just enough maturity in it to tug at your heartstrings and make you wonder how simple words could hit so hard.

This is a short book. Probably one of the shortest ones I’ve ever read. This is why I was so surprised that I sympathized so much with Joseph, given that he really didn’t talk that much throughout the book. You are only able to tell what he’s feeling through Jack’s observations. And man, it was so delicate yet so thorough! Tears welled up in my eyes while reading so many parts of this book. It was emotional, so gut-wrenching, and beautiful.

However, if you’re not a fan of very sad books, I’m afraid you won’t find this one to your liking. There were very few happy scenes and these come up subtly that instead of smiling, I find myself tearing up. But it would be a shame to miss this. It really would.

Rating: 5 out 5 stars

Shelve this on Goodreads

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