Reality is not always a fun read


Joseph is an eighth grader with a past so troubled that his new foster brother counts his smiles, spaced as they are over weeks instead of hours. Joseph’s reason for living is his daughter, Jupiter, the only thing left of the one person he loved.

Jack, Joseph’s foster brother,  is a sixth grader who has never known the kind of anger and pain Joseph carries with him. He lives on an organic dairy farm with his parents, a place of quiet routine and peace. He shares Joseph’s story so simply and powerfully that at times, I felt the book as much as I read it.

This is not an easy book, but it’s a realistic one, and one that older middle grade readers and teens will connect with. It’s tragic, upsetting, sad and even brutal at times – none of those adjectives being things that usually qualify as a “fun read”. It’s not a fun read, but it’s not trying to be one, either. This story could have been written so that it was more focused on the action or friendship or other elements, but it would have been a lesser book that way. This one is perfect just as it is.

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

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