Hello TBF readers! I am currently a graduate student at Nazareth College studying to become a Literacy Specialist. I have the pleasure of taking a Young Adult literature course and am very excited to share my thoughts with you. I just recently finished reading Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt and cannot stop thinking about it.
I was initially interested in reading this book because the title sounded appealing, but after reading, I realized the importance of the title itself. I’m sure that most of you reading this have taken a science course, or have an understanding of what orbiting means. To orbit means that one object goes around another object. The Earth orbits the sun and the moon orbits the Earth, for example. In Orbiting Jupiter, we are introduced to Joseph, who is placed with a foster family on a farm in Maine. The reader and the characters in the book, including Joseph, orbit Jupiter, his daughter whom he has never met. She is the central focus by which all other aspects of this book orbit, or revolve.
When an item orbits another, it is allowed to stay in orbit due to gravity. Gravity constantly pulls the orbiting object toward the central focus, while the orbiting body’s momentum or movement continue to propel it forward, allowing the moving object to follow a continuous path around the central object, forever.
The interesting part though, is if the force of gravity is too strong, the orbiting object will collide with the central object, damaging or potentially destroying both objects. On the other hand, if the momentum of the orbiting object is too strong, the object would continue on, forever leaving its once central focus. To orbit means to be in perfect balance between wanting something so badly, but knowing that giving into gravity will result in damage of what you want, and continuing to push forward, but from a distance.
No, this book is not about space, but if you were to apply this scientific concept of orbiting to relationships, to people, and to ourselves, you have just gained an understanding of the intricate content within this book.
We follow Joseph as he struggles in wanting to find and be with Jupiter, his daughter, but also being pushed forward by his circumstances. It’s about the push, the pull, the constant tug-of-war between what is wanted, what is expected, and what is necessary to keep this delicate balance. And of course, it is also about, what happens if one of these pieces becomes unbalanced.
I recommend this book, not only because it is both beautiful and tragic, but also because it is a memorable, relatable, and a constant page turner. If you enjoy realistic fiction this is definitely the book for you, and even if you don’t I still suggest giving this book a try because I am confident you will not be disappointed. I have taken the liberty of recommending this book to almost everyone I know and I extend the invitation to you, TBF readers!