Jackson Hurd’s family has taken in a new foster child, and Jackson will have to find the meanings of love and loyalty as he befriends his foster brother.
Joseph Brook looks like an average eighth-grader at Eastham Middle School, but he’s not. He became a father at age 13, spent time in juvie, and has an abusive father. Living with Jack’s family on their Maine farm could mean a normal life for him, but he is obsessed with finding Jupiter, the daughter he’s not allowed to see. He finds love within Jack’s family and support from some teachers at school—including Coach Swieteck, whom some readers might remember from Okay for Now (2011)—who appreciate his skills in math and gymnastics, but one teacher warns Jack of Joseph’s bad influence, and other students call Joseph “Psycho.” Schmidt writes with an elegant simplicity in this paean to the power of love. But there’s a snake in the garden—Joseph’s father—and it is the uncoiling of fate, rooted in the tale from the beginning, that leads to the novel’s devastating conclusion.
Readers will not soon forget either Joseph Brook or this spare novel written with love and grace. (Fiction. 10-14)