Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D Schmidt 4/5

First off this story broke my heart, I read it in a day in 3 sittings because I’m at Uni, but it’s a really short, sharp, sweet story. I didn’t cry but I never really do, it was bittersweet and if anyone’s read it then they know what I mean. And if you haven’t read it then stop reading this and go pick it up, don’t ruin it, it’s super short and you’ll finish it in no time, so off you pop.

Now for the detailed explanation.

Characters

There’s two main characters, Jack and Joseph, with everything being told from Jack’s perspective. Jack basically is the son of parents who have their own farm and who used to foster children. Joseph comes from a pretty tough background and comes to live with them, the catch; he’s 14 and has a child of his own.

The relationship builds between the two over a short period of time and instead of being brothers, they ‘have each other’s backs’. This is a really nice way of doing it because the story between them takes place over quite a short period of time and it would be unrealistic for them to have this undisputed bond for no reason. But you do see the relationship between them build and that’s enough for you to be satisfied.

Setting

Most of it takes place during winter and I’m not sure exactly where due to my lack of American knowledge but it’s a very cold state and this is continually repeated. The writer spends a lot of the time continuously talking about the weather and the temperature so you know of the extreme cold sets the temperature in the way of the emotions of the characters, but mainly Joseph. There is not a great detail about the surroundings but enough to allow you to imagine the general landscape which allows you to fill in the fine details therefore bringing you more into the story. I personally prefer this, I think that authors can spend too much time giving every minute detail about everything and this pulls me out of the environment and story. I can understand why people would perhaps call it too minimalistic but it works for me.

Story

There isn’t really a plot; it’s more just the story and following along the journey of this boy trying to adjust and settle in to this family and deal with his problems but it is seen more from secondary point of view which is strange but interesting and I really enjoyed it.

There isn’t much to the story, it could be seen as filler for the momentous moments but when you think about it then you realise that sometimes you just need to go through it and be a part of it to be drawn into the story and what is happening and be able to attach yourself to the characters.

Progression

It has a really nice flow and you’re taken on a ride but it isn’t a rollercoaster. It is just an average trip and you just go along with it. Across the way you have a couple of bumps and a couple of hills but that isn’t really what this book is about.

You just go with it but not in the way that it is unrealistic and that you couldn’t believe it.

Writing

It is a very adolescents writing style but that isn’t a negative. When reading it I had a 12 year old boy’s voice, Jack, in my head and it was written in very plain and simple terms but it was endearing and pleasant still. Things moved in a very logical progression, there was no jumping back and forward which was nice and allowed you to stay with it. It was plainly written to tell a story not to be applauded for its complexity or technicality.

Quirk

There was a quirk of a smile and our narrator judges how Joseph feels upon him smiling and this is a really nice way of doing it because how do we know how other people are dealing with their lives or them getting over something apart from their physical display of emotion.

Ending

It is just what it is. You know it’s going to be sad from the things people have said and if not then sorry to break it to you but you might get emotional. Embrace it, just embrace it, it’s so worth it.

I’m more than happy with the way it ended, even though it seemed sudden but in life things don’t build up. I only really knew the ending was coming because there were so few pages left.

 

There’s so much to say and think about in this book and for such a short story I see no reason for people not to pick it up, so if you haven’t read it and did not heed my advice at the beginning then I implore you, please. Go get it: buy it, from a library, whatever, but read it, I mean, what have you got to lose?

 

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