19. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Historical Fiction

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt, 360 pages, read by Angie, on 02/16/2012

Okay for Now is the companion novel to The Wednesday Wars, but you really don’t have to have read The Wednesday Wars to enjoy this book. And enjoy it you will. If you don’t fall in love with Doug Swieteck after reading this book I have no hope for you. My heart ached for him and yours will too. Doug moves with his family (abusive father, silent mother, criminal brother) to stupid Maysville because his father lost his job. He lives in The Dump and he thinks life is hopeless. Then he finds a book of bird drawings at the local library. He doesn’t know they are drawings by Audubon, all he knows is that they are beautiful and he can’t take his eyes off them. His life starts turning around. He gets a job delivering groceries at Spicer’s Deli, he meets a girl (Lil), the librarian starts teaching him to draw (in secret of course). But then he finds out that the library is selling off the the Audubon drawings and he makes it his mission to get them back.

Doug’s life is not easy and it will break our heart. His father speaks with his fists and his a psycho throughout much of the book. His brother terrorizes him for the first half. His mother does the best she can but doesn’t stand up to his father. Doug is teased at school and looked down upon because of his brother’s criminal tendencies. But he does find that certain people recognize the spark in him and take a chance on him and he does begin to blossom. This book is all about personal growth. Doug’s growth is the main subject but we also see his brother’s growth as well. His brother starts out as a thug but we see him become more than that. Especially when the oldest brother comes home from Vietnam wounded; that really brings the family together.

I did think the end was a little too fairy tale ending and rushed. I like redemption but I thought the dad’s redemption came out of left-field and I am not sure I bought it. There was nothing leading up to it to show that he was on that path. I am also not sure about Lil’s ending; that too seem to come out of left field and I am not sure it was needed. There was a lot going on in this book and that seemed to be just one more unneeded thing tacked onto the ending. However, this book was stellar and a great read. I highly recommend it.

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