Feb 6, 2013

Audio Review: Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt

Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt
April 5th, 2011 from Clarion Books

Midwesterner Gary D. Schmidt won Newbery Honor awards for Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boys and The Wednesday Wars, two coming-of-age novels about unlikely friends finding a bond. Okay For Now, his latest novel, explores another seemingly improbable alliance, this one between new outsider in town Doug Swieteck and Lil Spicer, the savvy spitfire daughter of his deli owner boss. With her challenging assistance, Doug discovers new sides of himself. Along the way, he also readjusts his relationship with his abusive father, his school peers, and his older brother, a newly returned war victim of Vietnam.

Have you read The Wednesday Wars by Schmidt? If so, you will recognize Mr. Doug Swieteck. He is a sweet kid with a pretty crap home life. In this novel, Doug moves to a new town and he immediately realizes he doesn't have a whole lot to be cheery about in this crap town either. Doug can't escape his bullying brother who falls in love with the wrong crowd. He also can't escape his dad, abusive in every sense of the word. Listening to Doug put up with his brothers tactics and his fathers downright cruel remarks and despicable behavior was really uncomfortable. I was angry at everyone for a long time for not rescuing Doug from his family. Yes, Doug has a loving mother but she is caught up in the abusive cycle as well. Plus, this was the 1960s and people put up with a lot of crap they shouldn't have back then. Just when things go a little bit right for Doug something goes wrong. Over and over again. It was painful to think that there are real kids just like Doug. They are emotionally beaten down by the ones that should lift them up the most. Do kids come in my library who live like this? Would I recognize any of the signs of an abused kid? I sure hope I do.

Doug's two little saving graces are Lil Spicer and the library. Lil is a spitfire girl and possibly the first real friend Doug has ever known. Their friendship starts out a little rough, but it was endearing to hear. Gosh, I loved hearing that the library was the one place where nothing bad happens to Doug. There is an entire side story of a special book in the library that transforms Doug's life. He is beyond mesmerized with John James Audubon’s Birds of America and the illustrations turn Doug's life around - literally.

There really isn't much I didn't love about this book. I was drawn into the story via the characters from the first few minutes. I had to listen to the whole thing just to see what happened to Doug. I know there was a lot of buzz for this book and the Newbery and now I know why. Whew, amazing! 5 giant stars!

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