Parents' Guide to

Orbiting Jupiter

By Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Devastating, deeply moving story of love and resilience.

Orbiting Jupiter Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 11 parent reviews

age 12+

Stop Living Under a Rock

Those of you who are still living under a rock pretending these issues do not exist are truly doing more harm than good. This book includes several intense situations, but as a teacher in a very rural setting, I have seen these played out almost every single year I've been teaching. Teen pregnancy aside, the emotional trauma and abuse encountered by teens are not only common, they are borderline scary in frequency. We're ignoring these issues and, by ignoring them and hoping they go away, almost accommodating those people that continue to abuse their children/position/authority. I have been witness to two different children severely abused and suicidal from home lives and their cases have been ignored - our pleas for help for these children completely disregarded by those sworn to protect them. It's sickening and heartbreaking. That said, this novel is a moment of hope. It offers a dichotomy of tragedy and salvation on which many young adult novels fall short. The main character is a confused young person that struggles to come to terms with how he should handle these more mature topics and - by the way - teens his age do encounter these issues and struggle to cope with them as well.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
3 people found this helpful.
age 13+

I have never read a book and cried this much

Gary D. Schmit has done it again!!! Orbiting Jupiter was able to grab my attention in a way that no other book has before. Though there are some mature themes, the overall love, and longing of a relationship with a father and child is most prominent. Plus this book is fairly short If you had under two hours to spare and did not want to watch a movie, this would be a perfect go-to book!

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
1 person found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (11 ):
Kids say (33 ):

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.

Book Details

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.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate