Book Review – Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

Book Review - Orbiting Jupiter - pinable image


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. 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.

Book Review - Orbiting Jupiter - Front Cover


Let me jump right in and start with the fact that I loved this book. Told from the perspective of 12-year-old Jack; the simple narrative is a beautiful dichotomy in what are sometimes very difficult topics.

Stories such as Josephs are often told in such horrifying detail that the reader feels little more that shock and horror. Orbiting Jupiter doesn’t take that approach. Instead the gentle insinuation from what Jack sees, hears and observes tells the story clearly enough on its own, even though he may not understand it himself. This leaves the reader with nothing but sadness and anger and what life chooses to throw at a 14-year-old boy.

Told with the simplicity of childhood, Orbiting Jupiter teaches us that in amongst all the grey, things really can be black and white. People like Joseph both need and deserve a chance at a better life. To have that though they need people to notice them, to care about them and to take a chance on them. If they manage to find that, then who knows what the future may hold.

The length and pace of this book means that there is very little character development. You learn very little about people’s motivations and even less about how they feel other than what is insinuated though a simple dialogue. Somehow that’s fine though, and fits in with the narrative style of the book. Put it this way, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything by not having this detail.

At less than 200 pages, Orbiting Jupiter is a fairly quick read and its directness allows for a place that has you working through it quickly. I managed to read it in 3 sittings which isn’t bad considering I have a 1-year-old and 3-year-old! I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that I cried both happy and sad tears.

Book Review - Orbiting Jupiter - book close up


I give Orbiting Jupiter 5/5 stars. Both the narrative and the pace were perfect for the book which – despite the age of the voice – did not shy away from difficult topics. Instead it faces them with a simplicity that sometimes only childhood can afford.

If you like your books short, snappy and to the point but not afraid to shy away from difficult topics, then I think you’ll love this as much as I did. A moving story, beautifully told.

Should you wish to have a read yourself – you can find Orbiting Jupiter over on Amazon.

My ratings explained:

5/5 – a geat book…go out and read it NOW.

4/5 – a good book…definately worth a download.

3/5 – an ok solid read…not amazing but worth a read if the blurb tickles your fancy.

2/5 – mmm…not the best but not horrendous either.

1/5 – yeah…I’d give this one a miss.

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  1. This looks like such a good book! great review!

  2. Okay, this sounds brilliant. I love your review! Adding it to my TBR!

  3. This book sounds amazing! I’m definitely adding it to my list! Great review!

  4. I saw this book a while back and completely forgot about it but you just reminded me and I’m soooo excited to give it a go!

  5. I always love a book that isn’t afraid to tackle the hard subjects!
    Britt | http://alternativelyspeaking.ca

  6. seems really interesting!

  7. This has been on my reading list since around when it came out and I really need to get to it! I don’t think I’ve heard any negative things!

  8. This sounds interesting!

  9. Oooh adore this book cover!

  10. Rebecca says:

    I love short books! especially ones that reel you in from the start x

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