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The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas


The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas


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WTV's Ryan Shapiro, Karina Grokhovskaya, and Sadie Johnson bring you a few last words

Every Book Has a Silver Lining: Orbiting Jupiter

Christina Huang
In this weekly review, Every Book has a Silver Lining, staff reporter Christina Huang takes a look at books to find their silver lining.

In just under 200 pages, Gary D. Schmidt, two-time Newbery Honor author, welcomes readers into the heartbreaking and emotional narrative of his novel, Orbiting Jupiter

The narrator, 12-year-old Jack Hurd, introduces readers to his new foster brother, Joseph Brook, a 14-year-old fresh out of a juvenile facility. 

Without much previous knowledge of the boy, readers are brought along as they get to know Joseph, the person behind the three pieces of information previously given—the only three things readers, and Jack, know: the juvenile facility he was at was a place called Stone Mountain; he was placed there after a murder attempt on his teacher; and most importantly, he is a father to a girl he has never known. 

The writing style, a point of contention among some readers, is more casual. It’s reflective of the narrator’s age, who took a backseat in the story. The dialogue and style in general contain less variation than other books readers may be more drawn to, but the parts where the author’s voice shines through the one of the 12-year-old boy, enhance the story’s quality; not seeming too out of place but serving the purpose of keeping the reader interested. 

Jack wasn’t the main character of the story, but his role, being an observer and a supporter of Joseph—the readers’ desires personified in some cases—made it so readers could be provided with a broader perspective that gives insight into the thoughts others have about Joseph while actively engaged in the story. He’s able to hear the doubts and warnings about his foster brother and defend him from them as well. 

Additionally, Jack takes note of each time Joseph smiles, the detail turning into a very telling indicator of Joseph’s progression throughout the book as he adjusts to his new life. 

One thing that stays constant, however, is his determination to meet his daughter, Jupiter. 

The conclusions that the book reveals slowly, although heartbreaking, aren’t unexpected. Grounded in reality and seeing it through Jack’s perspective, readers can view the situation differently than the way Joseph must: hyperfocused on Jupiter, seeing it all through tunnel vision. 

Though some readers find it more straightforward than Schmidt’s other work, being less abstract and symbolic, Schmidt blends allusion, repetition, and foreshadowing into Joseph—and, less directly, Jupiter’s—story, a taste of what’s to come. 

The characters, Joseph in particular, were given the opportunity to grow, in spite of the time they were able to do so. His development, again, was marked by Jack’s narration and repetition. Given insight into Jack’s memories and thoughts as well, readers can gain a deeper understanding of his reasoning and, with a narrator whom readers are able to support, the emotional tie to Joseph’s story is strengthened. 

With an ending that was bittersweet and crushing to some, though disappointing to others with a few complaints that it left the story seeming purposeless, Orbiting Jupiter is a story of family, hope, and love. 

Some readers think the ending was a poor device used to compensate for the lack of a substantial plot, while others disagree, with the idea that it only furthered the story and completed the foreshadowing hinted at earlier in the story. 

It’s one of a situation all too real and a boy, a father, readers can’t help but advocate for, in the few pages they’re allowed to do so, no matter how idealistic his dream may seem. Readers looking for a short but captivating read, something to close with a smile on their face despite the tears staining their cheeks, may just find their next read and all that they look for in Orbiting Jupiter

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About the Contributor
Christina Huang
Christina Huang, Staff Reporter/Interactive Media Editor
Christina Huang is a sophomore in her first year officially with Wingspan. She enjoys reading, writing, playing the piano and viola, and finding/creating wallpapers for her phone which she will likely never use. She’s looking forward to the opportunity to better her writing and find the good in scorned books this year through her book blog: Every Book Has a Silver Lining. Contact Christina:

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