“You know how teachers are. If they get you to take out a book they love too, they're yours for life.”
― Gary D. Schmidt, Orbiting Jupiter
Wow, this was a sad book! I've read The Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt, which certainly had elements of sadness, but humor, too. I don't want to spoil Orbiting Jupiter for anyone, though. While it is quite melancholy, it is thoughtful and very well written, just like Schmidt's other books, and fans of the author and his writing should not give this one a miss. The story is, on the surface, a very simple one. Fourteen-year-old Joseph is taken in as a foster child by a farming family, who has a slightly younger son, Jack. It's not a spoiler to say that Joseph has a baby daughter whom he has never met, and a highly dysfunctional home life, which led him to be living with Jack's family.
This story is really one about family and friendship and the different kinds of love those relationships inspire. Schmidt has a way of appealing to your emotions without being overtly soppy or clichéed, which I definitely appreciate. The main characters are likable, if imperfect, and I wish I knew more of their story. The book is quite short, around 200 pages, so much is left unsaid, but the ending is well done and fitting nonetheless. And despite its brevity, I know this is a story that will linger with me for some time to come. I look forward to whatever Schmidt comes up with next!