‘Orbiting Jupiter’ – Gary Schmidt

This story is told through the eyes of our young narrator, Jack, and focus on how he copes when his family get fourteen year old Joseph – a young father who has been in detention after attacking a teacher – come to live with them.

Joseph is the kind of boy that many are quite happy to regard as trouble. He is mercilessly bullied by a trio of boys in his new school, and many of the teachers are convinced that he is bringing down the better students. He is, in many ways, a boy more sinned against than sinning – we never get all the details (thankfully) but what we are told about his behaviour suggests strongly that he has been abused while in care and that he does not come from a supportive family background.

However, Jack’s family judge a person’s character on how their animals react to them. Joseph is able to calm down the family cow, so he’s okay. A rathe simple approach, but it allows Joseph to bloom. As he relaxes in this new environment, he starts to share some of the details of his past. Unsurprisingly, things are not as we were led to believe at the start.

Just when there was a hint of something positive happening, we’re sideswiped by a move so shocking I wasn’t sure I’d read it correctly. Abrupt, certainly, but it did get me emotionally.

This is a very quick read, and I think I’d have liked to have had details fleshed out a little more or spent a bit more time with these characters. However, I really did feel an awful lot of stuff was packed into these pages…perhaps I couldn’t have coped with more.

Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read this in advance.