Humanity Always Wins


Sometimes it just seems that violence will never stop. Regardless of the motives behind the numerous killings we’ve recently witnessed in different parts of the world, the result is always the same. More and more deaths.

How can we even face our children?

When my own kids were very young I always turned to art in times of turmoil and sorrow. Art is such a consolation when there is too much hurt around us.

While we face another despicable shooting in Southern California, where my son studies and people I know live, I thought of two books I read recently. Both are from well-established and skilled authors. Both are short, so expertly crafted that each word has a purpose. Both stayed at the periphery of my mind since I read them. Some books are like that. And today they are perfect to prove that we can be so much more than killers of our own species. Humanity always wins.


Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

Joseph is only thirteen when he becomes a father. He has never seen Jupiter, his baby daughter and yet loves her beyond reason. Joseph has been in an abusive familial relationship, has deeply loved the mother of their baby and also spent time in a juvenile facility. When he’s released Joseph is placed with a foster family on a farm in Maine, where he meets Jack, the farmers’ twelve-year-old son, two years younger than him. Jack is a quiet boy and the narrator of this heart-wrenching novel that tells of Joseph’s relentless search for Jupiter. Several adults play a crucial role in the novel. I especially fell for the father who shows so much understanding for Joseph and for his son at the bittersweet ending. Orbiting Jupiter is one of the most significant novels I recently read on the true meaning of family.

Two personal bonuses:

  • I’m a little partial to Maine and I find the author’s descriptions of rural Maine remarkable.
  • Through the book there are several references to Octavian Nothing, an exceptional novel in two volumes, written by M. T. Anderson, one of my favorite authors.

The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech

When a young childless couple finds a child asleep on their porch, with a note asking them to keep him until someone will pick him up, they wonder who could possibly abandon a young child to strangers. Soon, however, they fall for the mute but enchanting artistic boy and start almost immediately to worry about his departure. Through his time with his temporary family Jacob develops a strong relationship with the family dog and also the cows (Sure to win young readers’ hearts). Jacob’s rough father eventually picks him up one day, and the couple mourns him until they decide to become foster parents. In this manner they will get to know dozens of children, each with a unique and often difficult story. Through them they will often recall the boy left on their porch years ago. The ending of the novel brings him back. But I won’t tell you more.


These two books are charged with beautiful human feelings. In two very different ways they tell of foster kids and foster families’ stories. As I read them I felt an enormous amount of hope for our world. I’m not a huge fan of the word “moral” and yet these two novels depict adults acting with a deep sense of right and wrong, always in favor of the children.

For this reason I find them perfect for these moments of violence when we want to reassure children and prove to them that most adults are there for them. Always. No matter what.


Peace to each of you during the holiday season.




  1. I really like the thoughts you shared today.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts and the references of your books

    • Thank you. Merci. Je ne sais pas si les livres sont traduits mais ils sont vraiment top. Surtout Orbiting Jupiter. Tous les livres de Gary D. Schmidt sont fabuleux.

      • oh pas besoin qu’ils soient traduits je lis beaucoup de livres en anglais 😉 Mais je ne connaissais pas donc je vais me renseigner, ils doivent être dispos en format électronique sur Amazon je pourrais les lire sur Kindle:) Bonne journée

      • Ils sont pour ados, juste pour que vous ne vous attendiez pas à des romans pour adultes.

  3. Good for you, Evelyne, with your positive thoughts in these dark times. –Curt

  4. I also find art — many different kinds of art — essential to surviving and retaining a sense of humanity. Especially music, for some reason, goes really deep. Thanks for a message full of hope when we can really use some.

    • You are 100 % right about music, Marilyn. I would say that it is the most universal form of art. When I go to a concert (all kinds of music) I feel connected to the people around me who also chose to attend this concert. Books demand a more personal effort.

  5. Thanks for this, Evelyne. Agree with you that it’s so hard to have to explain this violence to children. Agree that it’s important we ensure that they (and we) appreciate the beauty, humanity and philosophy of every day life.

    • Thank you, Kimberly. Children are always on my mind and I feel ashamed when terrible violence explodes in our world. Art can help us to re-connect with what really matters. See you around.

  6. Thanks for your thoughts Evelyne – good message.

  7. Well said. I haven’t read the other, but I can vouch for the goodness that is Orbiting Jupiter.

  8. Behind the Story says:

    Thanks for your positive thoughts, Evelyne. With news coverage of the most spectacular acts of other human beings, I try to remember how many good people there are in the world–millions is every country.

    I’m currently reading another book about orphans and children separated from their parents: “The Orphan Train.”

    • Oh The Orphan Train is also a great novel. You are also sending very good vibes through your blog and writing, Nicki. I fully agree with you: there are more good people than bad. Peace to you.

  9. I like jow uou found books featuring hope. I usually mention to new friends posts which they may enjoy of mine. I wrote one witg a poem called “Unity” with branches of a tree reaching towards another. I like treea, they give me a sense of calm and serenity. ♡ Another post is called, “There is Peace in Trees.” I was trying to talk about people getting along in the unity post. Oh, I have a labyrinth poetic thoughts post. These may be a little like how you feel. I found you through Dan A. and Joey. 🙂

  10. My heart turns to ice at every shooting in America, everywhere. I am so glad your son is safe and I hope for your friends too. Tragic. Turning to art is a wonderful remedy, thank you for sharing these books with us Evelyne.

  11. Wonderful post, Evelyne. I will check out these books, and encourage my kids to read them next time I go to the library. I never thought of using art as a balm in times of violence, but it is such an intuitive choice, I wonder why I didn’t think of it. Thanks for providing this idea.


  12. So good to see you here, Elizabeth. These two books are really good. I favor the first one, but both are uplifting when the world around us is too violent and uncertain. I always find music, visual arts and books great companions in those moments. And kids relate to them. See you on your blog. Have a peaceful holiday season with your family and friends.

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