Saturday, April 6, 2013
Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt
In this companion novel to The Wednesday Wars, Doug Swieteck struggles to be more than the "skinny thug" that some people think him to be. He finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer, who gives him the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.
"[A] stealthily powerful, unexpectedly affirming story of discovering and rescuing one’s best self."—Booklist, starred review.
This book definitely deserves to be put on your "must read" list. In Wednesday Wars, Doug didn't really make that big of impression on me. But in Okay For Now, he's a kid that needs a second chance and a lot of support. His family situation isn't good, and his father is not a great role model. While Doug hates that his family had to move to a new town, it's the town, and the people in it, that give him the extra attention and teaching that he needs. This book is set in the 1960's, and I loved reading about life then. Life seemed simpler back then, and it seemed that people had more interactions with each other. Doug got a job delivering groceries and he developed a relationship with each customer on his delivery route. They each had a role in helping him figure out who he wanted to become.
Like Holling and Shakespeare in Wednesday Wars, Doug learns about art (and life) through a book of watercolors by John James Audubon's. Our family listened to this book while traveling, and while we loved the narrator, it was hard not seeing the birds that Doug described in so much detail. I looked up each bird when we got home, because Schmidt ties each chapter to one of the paintings.
I love the writing style Schmidt uses. He expertly weaves many themes together to create a deep, meaningful work. I loved that we got to see Doug learn many life lessons, while learning about art, Vietnam, Jane Eyre, the first man on the moon, and the Yankees. This book is packed with just as much emotion as information. You'll laugh and cry while reading this coming of age story!
I loved an interview with Schmidt found here (scroll down the page a little).