- Planet Jupiter by Jane Kurtz
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-056486-5 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-223927-3 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 3–5
Eleven-year-old Jupiter, with her freegan-style approach to consumption and love of the traveling busker lifestyle, is definitely her father’s child. When Dad leaves, Jupiter and her mother end up in Portland, where they’re caring for Aunt Amy’s adopted daughter, Edom, as Amy undergoes treatment for cancer in California. While Jupiter uses her charm to try to make the best of her less than ideal circumstances, sharing her open approach to world and attempting to bridge the divide between her and seven-year-old, Ethiopian-born Edom, the girl makes it clear that she is no kid to be pitied (“That offends me,” she responds sternly to Jupiter’s questioning). The majority of this story is spent developing Edom and Jupiter’s relationship as they negotiate understanding of each other’s cultural differences and map a plan to return Edom to her Amy-mom in California. The true takeaway here, however, lies in Jupiter’s changing view of her father, as she realizes that her family is life’s truest adventure; additionally, the family’s quirky hippie lifestyle and the very authentic eccentricities of the Portland community add flair. However, there are way too many running plot threads ranging from kooky neighbors, to Jupiter’s missing her adult older brother, to Mom’s secret romance with a family friend, and as a result the book never gains any significant traction; additionally, Edom’s lack of contact with her mother is implausible. Nonetheless, it’s an offbeat look at an appealingly unorthodox lifestyle, and kids may find Jupiter diverting company.