By: Faith Parkhurst/Junior Writer
Gary D. Schmidt, Author of the Young adult fiction Novel Orbiting Jupiter, tells a heartbreaking story of an underage father who just wants to see his daughter.
Jackson (Jack) Hurd narrates his experience during the time his family fosters fourteen-year-old Joseph Brook after his one-month sentence in the fictional Stone Mountain juvenile detention center after attacking his teacher after a friend gave him drugs. Throughout the story we see Joseph open up more and more to his foster brother as he tells his story. We learn that during one of his fathers (a plumber knew only as “Mr. Brook) visits the Joyce residence, the then thirteen-year-old Joseph falls in love with Maddison, or Maddie as he calls her. No matter the weather Joseph makes the seven-mile walk to madeleines house and forms a deeper connection to her. When her parents find out they are furious and send Badiline away to a boarding school where they learn she is pregnant, however, she doesn’t survive the birth. Furious and grieving, her parents use their lawyer abilities to draw up a contract where Mr. Brooks signs over custody of his granddaughter in exchange for enough money to buy a new work truck. Joseph, having no idea about this and having learned his daughter is staying at a foster home in the next town over, sets out to find her. After a long night of searching the Hurds eventually find Joseph and after seeing his daughter through a window, agrees to go back home. When the family returns home Joseph’s father is there with his new truck, wreaking alcohol. After Mr. Brooks pulls a gun on Jack, Joseph agrees to leave with him, and tragedy strikes. However, there is a mellow, bittersweet ending.
I would rate this book 5 out of 5 stars. It’s a short novel full of adventure, love, and heartbreak. It brings to life what some teens go through and that not all young parents get a choice. We follow Joseph’s story and redemption and many will grow attached to the cow hugging, ice skating, young father. The ending is quite sad so get the tissues ready and go give this book a read.