Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Released April 18, 2011.
Let me make this simple – READ THIS BOOK! If you are a fan of the book this is a companion book to The Wednesday Wars, you will fall head-over-heels for this one. If you never read that book, it doesn’t matter, still read this one. It stands on its own fantastically well. In this book, a small character from The Wednesday Wars is given his own book. Doug Swieteck is a boy who has just moved to a new town with a brother who gets into plenty of trouble, a mother who smiles far too rarely, and a father whose hands are fast when he is angry, which is most of the time. But Doug is more than the “skinny thug” that people assume he is, much more. This coming of age story set in 1968 is about how a entire town can be wrong and how that same town can help raise a boy to be the man he is capable of being.
This is my favorite Schmidt book yet, and that is saying something! The characterizations here are so well rendered. The people are real, tangible and each and every person in the book is human and complex. Yet the book remains fresh, easily read, easily related to, and vibrant. It is a book with space inside it for the reader to make realizations, come to conclusions, and bring their own perspective.
Told in first person by Doug, the voice of the book is entirely his own. It never stumbles, never becomes an adult looking at the situation, never lectures. Instead it learns as it speaks, realizes as it voices and sometimes doesn’t figure out what the reader has come to understand. It is raw, beautiful and heartrending.
I’m afraid I cannot capture in my review what this book is. To say that it should be a contender for an award this year is to lessen it. Instead, this book is one that can honestly change the way a child sees themselves. Not through anything didactic, but instead just allowing an honesty to pervade the book, a realization to happen, art and words to flow and reveal.
An unforgettable book that is sure to be a classic in years to come, this is a book that defies categorization and summary. Appropriate for ages 11-14.
Reviewed from NetGalley digital galley.
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