Review: Orbiting Jupiter

I first became aware of this book when it appeared on the Carnegie Prize Long List, it was the one that screamed ‘read me’! I couldn’t put it down, it had me hooked from the very beginning. This is now the book that I put in front of students when they ask for help choosing a book to read.  I don’t worry about the type of books they normally read and whether they’ll like it, I just tell them it’s a great book and let them get on with it! Every student without fail has enjoyed this, some have even recommended it to their friends. Success!

4/5 Stars

A story of friendship, family with a massive dose of heartache thrown in for good measure. The book is told from the POV of 12 year old Jack whose parents have just fostered who we believe is a very troubled 14 year old boy called Joseph. 

Joseph is just like every other boy his age except that he has a 3-month-old daughter called Jupiter who he has never seen. The story unfolds with Joseph slowly learning to trust his new family, finally feeling secure to share his story. Although young, he knows that he wants his daughter and will do anything to find her. 

The plot is multi-faceted, and although the story was very simply, Jack delivers the story with all the innocence of a 12 year old who doesn’t completely grasp the complexity of his new foster brother, but even so he is certain that Joseph is not the boy that many of his fellow students and some teachers have judged him to be.

The story is told in a quiet voice but this in no way detracts from its strength. Joseph says very little, and we only know his story from snippets, but one day the entire story comes out.

13 year old Joseph meets 13 year old Maddie and for the first time experiences what it is to love and be loved back without conditions. The result of this was a baby, Jupiter, who Joseph never got to see before she was fostered out and put up for adoption. Joseph’s story is heartbreaking and painful, but all through it he stays strong and focused on finding his daughter.

The ending was just heartbreaking.  I could just tell what was going to happen, and although I was right in one sense as Jack’s parents were so solid and caring, I was most definitely not prepared for the shock at the end. A great read, which deserves a wider audience, as it is definitely not just a ‘children’s’ book.

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