On My Bookshelf: Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

January 22, 2018

The basic plot from Amazon: The two-time Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt delivers the shattering story of Joseph, a father at thirteen, who has never seen his daughter, Jupiter. After spending time in a juvenile facility, he’s placed with a foster family on a farm in rural Maine. Here Joseph, damaged and withdrawn, meets twelve-year-old Jack, who narrates the account of the troubled, passionate teen who wants to find his baby at any cost. In this riveting novel, two boys discover the true meaning of family and the sacrifices it requires.


Why I liked it: Orbiting Jupiter is the first young adult book in a while that really made me say wow. It is short and has a simple plot, but has such great messages about love, loss, trust, family (not just the one you are born into), and sacrifice. Jack and Joseph are still more boys than young men, and are feeling their way into young adulthood. Jack has been blessed with two loving parents and a peaceful life in a rural small town, while Joseph's journey has been more of a struggle.
Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt is short and has a simple plot, but has such great messages about love, loss, trust, family (not just the one you are born into), and sacrifice. Jack and Joseph are still more boys than young men, and are feeling their way into young adulthood. Jack has been blessed with two loving parents and a peaceful life in a rural small town, while Joseph's journey has been more of a struggle. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

Both characters are extremely relatable and could be the boy next store or the boy sitting next to you in class. As a teacher, I was particularly interested in how the adults at Joseph's new school reacted to him and his troubled history. I cheered for the teachers who saw past his flaws and recognized his talents.


Classroom application: This book is a must add to your middle school or high school classroom library. It would hook reluctant readers, especially boys, and would also make a great whole class read aloud. While Joseph is a father at the age of 13, there are no sex scenes, though there is some mild violence.

The novel would lead to rich discussions about the consequences of our choices, the ways in which young people are judged, and whether second chances are deserved. The novel could also lead to research about abuse, children's rights, and the foster system.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Orbiting Jupiter for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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