Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt

Orbiting Jupiter was a very fast read.  I flew through it just this afternoon, even though I also have run some errands and spent some time welcoming Davan home from her camping trip and hearing all about it.

Orbiting Jupiter is a story told from the point of view of Jack, a 12 year old boy whose family does foster care.  Joseph, 14, comes to live with his family after a troubled past because, of course, you don't end up in foster care because your life was smooth sailing.  Joseph slowly opens up to his family, but even before he does, there are a few things they (and we, the readers) know.  Joseph, at 14, is a father and wants to find his daughter, Jupiter, who is a few months old.  He's been in a juvenile detention center called Stone Mountain.  And he hates to be touched or have someone behind him.

We've had a foster son.  Just one.  It was very difficult.  Sometimes these things turn out great.  Sometimes they just turn out safe.  Our experience was...not simple.  And it wasn't because we didn't care or because we were bad foster parents.  We simply were not equipped to deal with the issues our foster son had.  (And, as it turns out, neither were his next three placements, after which we lost track of him.)  And he was only 5 when he came to us.  I find I do like reading about foster care situations and I like when they work.  However, I also dread books where the foster child has a lot of big issues and then everything is tied up in a pretty bow by the end.  It doesn't always work that way.  But, kids tend to be resilient, so sometimes it does.  I approached the end of Orbiting Jupiter with some trepidation.  Joseph had some big issues and lots to overcome.  I both wished for a happy ending and dreaded it.  I won't tell you what happened except to say that at least part of it took me completely by surprise. 

I cared about these people even though the book was so short.  I think they'll stick with me a while.  That said, this was also a middle school book and felt like it at times.  After all, our narrator is 12.  I'm going to go again with:  good book, but not an all time favorite.

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