Having not been a fan of Gary D. Schmit’s Wednesday Wars (going against the masses), he wasn’t on my radar screen for a new book. However, Beth Kephart raved about Okay For Now, and I value her opinion, so I thought I’d take a chance. And it was a worthwhile chance I took. It’s a marvelous book.
No matter how you look at it, Doug Swieteck is an abused child, and I’m not lying. There’s both physical and verbal abuse from his father, and sometimes even his older brother. When his father is fired from his job on Long Island, the family is forced to relocate upstate to stupid Marysville, NY. It’s 1968 and the Apollo space missions are under way and Joe Pepitone, Doug’s idol, is a major NY Yankee. But in stupid Marysville, life goes on as usual. And you know, that whenever something good happens, there’s always something bad right around the corner and I’m not lying.
However, as Doug wanders around the local library (after he followed a cute girl, Lil Spicer, into it), he is amazed by pictures of birds drawn by John James Audobon. Can his salvation be the recreation of these drawings?
Schmidt doesn’t spare us in Okay For Now. You get a clear picture of Doug’s life, and Doug’s not lying when he says good is usually followed by bad. And you can understand how Doug wavers in his attempts to overcome his hardships. You can certainly relate to the adage that acorns don’t fall far from the tree, as his brother’s actions impact him, especially in a small town such as stupid Marysville.
But Doug is a wonderful character and his story and demeanor as he narrates is well worth reading. Schmidt’s writing is perfect for the story and the setting. Okay For Now is a new favorite of mine. Schmidt’s next book will be on my radar screen.
By the way, this week is Children’s Book week and Okay For Now was voted the Children’s Choice Book Award winner for Fifth Grade to Sixth Grade Book of the Year by readers. That’s got to tell you something.