Review: Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Here are the stats from this book:
Memorable voices: one. The book is told from the perspective of eighth grader and devoted Joe Pepitone fan Doug Sweiteck, who moves with his family to Marysville, New York in the summer of 1968.
Members of Doug’s family: five. Doug’s mother, father, older brother Christopher, and oldest brother Lucas, stationed in Vietnam.
Number of unforgettable villains: one. Doug’s dad is one of the most contemptible characters I’ve read. His abuse fills Doug’s home life with tension, anger, and danger.
Number of plates missing from John James Audubon’s Birds of America on display at the Marysville library: nine. Images from this rare book, which catches Doug’s eye immediately, are being sold off by the city. Under the artistic tutelage of one of the librarians Doug begins drawing the birds and soon sets his mind to getting the missing plates back. Audubon’s work serves as a uniting theme throughout the entire book.
Number of classes Doug takes at Washington Irving Junior High School: six. And after a “misunderstanding” with the gym teacher, seven. Things aren’t terrible until Doug’s classmates discover an embarrassing (and truly shocking) secret about him, turning these classes (and especially the moments in between them) into a fight for survival. His life a wreck, Doug struggles to return to okay.
Number of memorable characters: at least two handfuls worth. Lil Spicer, Mrs. Windermere, Coach Reed, Principle Peattie – I could keep on rattling, but you get the picture. Schmidt has a knack for developing memorable characters, adding layers of richness in the process.
Moments that strain the suspension of disbelief: one. It has something to do with a Broadway play. Implausible? I suppose, but a relatively small piece of the story. I think most readers will be willing to take the leap.
Beautifully unexpected moments: too many to count. Schmidt’s book had me feeling more emotion – sadness, happiness, and everything in between – than any other book I’ve read this year.
Libraries that should add Okay for Now to their collection: All of them.
Review copy from library
Watch the Okay for Now book trailer:
(Thanks to Watch. Connect. Read. for the video link)
Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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