Finding Jupiter by Kelis Rowe

Although Finding Jupiter by Kelis Rowe is a romance novel, it is also about coping with loss, the effects of blame, and the importance of hope.

Set in Tennessee, Rowe’s novel features two teens: Ray Evans and Orion Roberson. With her found poetry, Ray turns words into art. Entertained by romance, but not captivated by its drama, Ray spends her spare time on volleyball, classes, and art. Someone who likes creating beautiful things, Ray is also an artist on roller skates. After seeing the effect that love has had on her mother, Ray is afraid to love because of the risk of loss. She finds her Zen in a treehouse in her backyard surrounded by the scent of lavender growing in her mother’s herb gardens.

Orion is 0-2 in failed attempts at having a girlfriend. A thoughtful, somewhat socially awkward young man, Orion just wishes he had enough game to keep one amazing girl interested. Calmed by the familiar scent of chlorine, he’s a swimmer with sensory processing disorder who finds his Zen underwater where the sounds of the world shut off.

Both teens have suffered loss: Ray’s father died in a car accident on the day Ray was born. Orion lost his sister, a three-year-old darting into the street after a beach ball, when she was hit by a car.

When the two meet at Crystal Palace, the roller rink, sparks ignite. Despite her vow that she doesn’t want a guy taking up space in her head, a small part of Ray wishes she could relax into Orion’s hopeful interest and see where it goes—a summer fling or something more enduring?

As the two begin to spend time together, Ray is unsettled by Orion’s honesty. A puzzling, shy guitarist, Orion begins to pluck away at the layers of Ray’s callousness about love. Not only believing that happy endings are for fairy tales but afraid to love because of the risk of loss, Ray insists: “I know what happens when people fall in love. It might not always be accidents, pain, and death, but it does end eventually, and all you’re left with is an endless cloud of memories tucked away” (90-91).

Rowe’s novel reminds readers that we all have breakable parts, missing pieces, or vulnerabilities that we attempt to hide. Along with Rowe’s characters, we realize that love can fill voids and provide completeness as readily as it can cause pain with its loss. Finding Jupiter further reminds us that what we say and what someone hears can be two totally different things. After all, a message is not always received in the same spirit as it is delivered.

Because we all do a lot of hiding and secret-keeping, life is often mysterious. In that way, Finding Jupiter is a mystery that keeps readers intrigued until the truth is unveiled.

  • Posted by Donna

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