cover image Orbiting Jupiter

Orbiting Jupiter

Gary D. Schmidt. Clarion, $17.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-544-46222-9

Joseph Brook, 14, has been dealt a hand so bad that he deserves to win the foster family lottery, which he does, delivered into the care of the Hurds—loving, patient, thoughtful farmers. He arrives nearly mute, his social worker warning that, because of what he’s been through in detention, he doesn’t like the color orange, to be touched, or to be approached from behind. But Joseph thaws quickly, bonding with narrator, Jack, the last foster child the Hurds took in. Within weeks, Joseph shares his tragic history: he fell in love with a well-to-do girl, and she became pregnant at 13. The baby, Jupiter, is now in foster care, too, and Joseph desperately wants to find her. The plot can be heavy-handed, but Schmidt’s writing is so smooth and graceful that is easy to empathize with Joseph, who is victimized repeatedly—by his father, by adults who write him off before they meet him, by bullies who see an easy target. It’s a powerful story about second chances, all the more devastating because not everyone gets one. Ages 10–14. (Oct.)