Gary Schmidt captured my attention once already (review here), and Okay for Now only improves my opinion of his excellent writing. Though Okay for Now is loosely connected to Wednesday Wars, Holling Hoodhood plays a tiny part in this book, and the setting and characters are different. Still, it’s an excellent book even by itself.
Doug Swieteck calls his new home “The Dump.” Why shouldn’t he? His dad moved his family to stupid Marysville, in the summer of 1968. Doug’s father traveled to Marysville on a job, but is unhappy with his life and takes his frustrations out on Doug. Doug’s brother finds himself with the wrong crowd in Marysville and is soon accused of robbery. But soon, Doug finds a mission of his own, which begins when he sees the plates of John Audobon’s Birds of America at the local library. This mission leads him to all sorts of people across Marysville, like Lil Spicer, and Mrs. Windermere. With them, Doug finds a new world of belonging in Marysville.
As always, the characters take center stage in Schmidt’s novels; he most definitely has a talent for writing real and believable characters. By the time Okay for Now leaves your hands, you will feel like Doug and Lil are family, part of your own life, and you will ramble on about them to anyone in close range. In other words, this author leaves you nearly in tears when he twists the story yet again around a character that you’ve grown attached to throughout reading the book.
The story is not to be forgotten, however. While the characters take center stage, the story they roll out is equally engrossing. Schmidt’s knack is making such a normal setting as upstate New York in the 60s, in a small, sleepy town, and weaving that into a story that you won’t be able to put down. The elements are equally mundane: trouble at school, problems at home, a refuge in the library, making deliveries from Spicer’s Deli. But in Schmidt’s capable hands they are formed into a masterpiece.
It’s not an understatement to say that I really enjoyed Okay for Now. It’s one of the few books that I am going to go back and re-read immediately after finishing and reviewing it. In my mind, that’s the highest praise that can be given to an author. Gary Schmidt’s Okay for Now have you coming back it again and again.
Published on 22 December, 2011. Last updated on