Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D Schmidt // Book Review

Orbiting Jupiter

“Orbiting Jupiter” tells the story of Joseph, a young boy who has faced many challenges. He has been in trouble for a serious incident with a teacher, attended a special school, and has a daughter named Jupiter whom he is never met and believes he never will.

Joseph moves in with a new family on their farm, where they have a son, Jack. At first, Joseph is very shy and does not talk or smile much. Jack keeps track of Joseph’s smiles, which are very few.

As time goes by, Joseph begins to feel more at home, especially with the help of a cow named Daisy who likes him from the start. It is said that cows know if someone is kind-hearted.

One evening, after ice skating, Joseph opens up to Jack and his parents, sharing his entire backstory. Jack thinks the cold must have loosened him up because he talks a lot. It is a touching moment as they all embrace.

Joseph longs to meet his daughter, Jupiter. He searches the night sky for the planet Jupiter, but eventually, the Moon blocks his view. Despite difficulties at his new school, his foster parents work to arrange a visit with Jupiter for Christmas. When it takes too long, Joseph sets out to find her on his own.

Jack eventually locates Jupiter’s foster mother in a library. They rush to her home and find Joseph waiting outside. He had found the place but did not go inside. The foster mother does not let him see Jupiter but gives him a photo instead and takes him back to Jack’s parents.

Get ready…

In the story, Jupiter’s new mother regularly writes letters to him and sends pictures. Joseph’s father has always wanted to take Joseph back, even though he was not able to look after him properly and was mean to him. He even planned to trade Jupiter for money and send her away forever. This led to a big fight, and Joseph’s dad showed up at the house with a gun, insisting that Joseph come with him.

Joseph did not want any harm to come to Jack or the couple who had been so kind to him, so he went with his father. They drove away quickly, but sadly, there was an accident, and both of them passed away.

Joseph’s family organized a funeral for him, and he was laid to rest near where Jack’s relatives were buried. During the service, the priest spoke about how Joseph always looked out for those he cared about.

At the story’s conclusion, Jack’s parents decided to adopt Jupiter. Jack, who she calls ‘Jackie’, and Jupiter bonded instantly, and he promised to always be there for her.

What I liked

I found “Orbiting Jupiter” to be an easy read. The book cover is stunning, and I am drawn to smaller books because they do not take long to finish.

While some might argue that the ending was predictable, I secretly hoped the family would adopt Jupiter. Even though it was not a complete surprise, I did not mind.

The ending resonated with me more than the beginning. It is a mix of happiness and sadness, beautifully written, and conveys an important message.

We should always accept people, especially children who have faced hardships. Giving them time can lead to wonderful outcomes. Unfortunately, Joseph’s decision to leave with his dad, in a way, ended up saving lives but also cost him his own.

What I Did not Like

My main issue with “Orbiting Jupiter” was the simplicity and brevity of the sentences. I prefer more detailed writing, even though the book does not necessarily need it.

Essentially, I wanted more events to unfold beyond a few fights and a near-death experience in the river.

It is hard to explain, but I felt the book was somewhat plain. I craved bigger words and more dialogue. Gary D. Schmidt’s writing style differs significantly from what I usually read, and while I do not entirely dislike it, I wished for more.

Overall, “Orbiting Jupiter” is nice, simple, and clever. However, I found myself yearning for additional drama and deeper character development. It is a struggle because the book’s beauty lies in its simplicity, yet I kept reading.


What is ‘Orbiting Jupiter’? 

“Orbiting Jupiter” is a book by Gary D. Schmidt that tells a touching story about a young boy named Joseph who becomes a father at a very young age and his journey to find his daughter, Jupiter.

Who is Joseph? 

Joseph is the main character in the book. He is a teenage father who has faced many challenges and is determined to connect with his daughter, Jupiter.

What themes are explored in the book? 

The book explores themes of love, family, and redemption. It shows how Joseph deals with complex emotions and the impact of his past on his present.


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