Tuesday, November 17, 2015

ORBITING JUPITER by Gary D. Schmidt.  New York:  Clarion Books , 2015. 192p.
ISBN 978 0544462229 hc. $17.99.  Gr. 7-12   JUV FIC

          Joseph Brooks is tough and unpredictable - the stereotypical bad boy - who is only fourteen years old.  He's been raised by an abusive father, and a year ago, he fathered a child of his own with another 13-year old.  All of this unconventional activity lands him in foster care with Jack Hurd and his parents.  Jack is a little younger than Joseph and narrates the story for readers.  Good parenting by the Hurds, along with several teachers who recognize Joseph's intellect, gradually loosen up Joseph and allow him to reveal his whole story which includes a yearning to see his daughter named Jupiter.  Jack can count the number of times Joseph has smiled during his stay and, as he relaxes into his nurturing surroundings, they begin to add up faster.  The future is looking good for Joseph until his father shows up and tries to use him and Jupiter for financial gain.
          Readers won't predict the plotline twists toward the end of the book because Schmidt is a masterful storyteller.  While most of his stories pack an emotional punch, this one was quite suspenseful and made my heart stop a couple of times.  After digesting the impact of ORBITING JUPITER, readers may want to pick up some of Schmidt's earlier award-winning books, such as LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMASTER BOY (2004), THE WEDNESDAY WARS (2007),  and it's sequel OKAY FOR NOW (2011).
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

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