Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt review

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt


A few days ago, I had a car journey that would last about two hours so I decided to take Orbiting Jupiter with me since it’s a small book. I read the blurb and wasn’t entirely sure whether it would be something I would enjoy.

And, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure whether I like it now.

Joseph, who’s spent time in Stone Mountain, goes to live with Jack and his parents on their farm in Maine. He was sent away after trying to kill his teacher after being given something in the school bathroom that made him feel strange.

There was a few points in the book that I would have liked to be expanded. Why did Joseph keep calling Jack, Jackie? being the main one. It’s never explained and I didn’t like that Jack kept correcting him to no avail.

At times I did wonder whether what Jack was seeing was actually happening. It felt like his unconditional brotherly love was clouding his judgement and making his decisions different from his norm.

Jack was the youngest narrator I’ve read (as an adult at least) so at times I felt like I couldn’t connect with him but at the same time, I think his innocence means he doesn’t judge Joseph for what he’s done like all the adults and peers does. Admittedly, I did start to feel sad towards the end, sensing where the story was going.

During Zoe’s Zoella Book club chat on Twitter, I spoke to her and a few others about the themes of the story – the underage sex, the fact Joseph is such a young father, etc. I do think those themes won’t sit well with a lot of people but, as I know underage sex happens on a daily basis, I feel starting a conversation about this will help push adults into speaking more openly with those much younger on how to stay safe and protect themselves.

I will read this book again, just like I did Of Mice and Men, but I won’t be in a rush to do so.

If you read Orbiting Jupiter what did you think of it?

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