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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt Review

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Format: Hardcover, 360 pages
Published by Clarion Books
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
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.              

This book centers on Doug Swieteck, a eighth grade boy, who loves Joe Pepitone. His father is a heavy drinker, one older brother serving in the Vietnam War, and another beats him on a regular basis, Doug goes through life struggling not to be grouped in with the ruffian mold his new hometown, has made for his family, and on him.  He’s a hard worker, who deeply cares for his mother and loves John Audubon’s Birds of America. This book is a story of family life during the Vietnam War; it’s a story of injury, tragedy, PTSD, and above all love.

If you love the show The Wonder Years then you will like this book. Although The Wonder Years was a TV series, while reading this story all I could picture was this show. It’s written from Doug’s point of view, and he speaks directly to us the readers. 

1) It’s not the style of writing that caught my attention; it’s the characters that Schmidt created in his book. Every person has their vices, faults, problems, but each character is so well rounded that I would find it hard for any reader to not later feel compassion for characters that seemed less than agreeable at the beginning of the book. Doug’s voice is so distinct that as the story goes on, you feel as if you’re Doug’s personal confidant.  Dough is a strong boy, who despite his rough home life and bad luck, keeps pushing forward and captures the hearts of everyone in the book.

2) Gives very realistic accounts of people suffering from PTSD.

3) All of the main characters are well developed. What I mean by this is that they have many layers which allows the reader to have a better understanding of their voice, mind, personality, and background.

1) The end wraps up too quickly and easily. Suddenly, everything ends up working out and it's generally a happy ending. Not that I dislike happy endings but it just seemed simple.

2) Lacks a unique quality because it reminds me so much of The Wonder Years.

She smiled—and it wasn’t the kind of smile that said I love you—and she skipped up the six marble steps toward the marble entrance. You know how much I was hoping she would trip on the top step and scatter her books everywhere and she’d look at me like I had to come help her and I wouldn’t but maybe I would?
I'm not lying when I say that Hollywood actresses would kill for my mother's smile. You think Elizabeth Taylor can smile? If you saw my mother's smile, you wouldn't even let Elizabeth Taylor in the same room.

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