A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Offers a glimpse of social services and the challenges of helping children in need.
Life can be messy, hard, and bitterly disappointing, but there's always good in the world and it's worth fighting for. Investing time, attention, and love in other people can turn a life around. Be careful of judging people based on rumors and what you think you know about them.
Positive Role Models
Joseph is resolute in his devotion to the baby daughter he's never seen, and he insists that he has an important role as her father despite his age. Jack welcomes Joseph into the family and is on his side from the start, making personal sacrifices to help Joseph settle in and find his place. Several empathetic adults, including teachers and his foster parents, go out of their way to support and encourage Joseph.
Violence & Scariness
Menacing bullies, a harrowing close call in an icy river, a horrific death, and a brutal, bloody fight.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Eighth-grader who fathered a child tells about relationship with girl, but sexual encounters aren't explicitly described.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Coarse language used in anger and stress: "hell," "hellhole," and "nuts." Bullies call boy "Psycho."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drunk man threatens others and causes serious harm.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Orbiting Jupiter is a heartrendingly tragic -- yet stubbornly hopeful -- novel by Newbery Honor-winning author Gary D. Schmidt (The Wednesday Wars). The teenage father faces judgmental treatment and rude comments in his new community, and he's targeted by a trio of bullies. Some adults dismiss him as the kind of trouble that drags down "good" kids, but a few teachers treat him with respect and kindness. The relationship that led to his daughter's birth is described warmly but with no details regarding sexual behavior. Several characters face perilous situations, including an unstable person wielding a gun and a dangerous river, and there's a violent death.
Is It Any Good?
Don't underestimate this book's spare writing and slim size: Your heart will ache for author Gary Scmidt's taciturn young Joseph long before you begin to understand his suffering. ORBITING JUPITER echoes the bleak tones of Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome and ramps up tragedy to a Shakespearean scale. It stops short of hurtling over the to edge, thanks to empathetic, quietly remarkable characters drawn in quick but telling strokes.
Schmidt carefully crafts a portrait of a boy doing his best in bad circumstances and the people who recognize his worth and go out on a limb to help him. The grim events ultimately point to a hopeful and inspiring message of love and community.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.