Okay for Now

By Gary D. Schmidt

May 01, 2011 | Reviewed by TFK Kid Reporter Francesco Franzese
 
 

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Number of pages:360

What's the basic story line?

This story takes place in 1968. Doug Swieteck, an eighth grader with an alcoholic father and criminal brother, is forced to move to Marysville, New York, when his father loses his job. Doug hates his new home, but eventually he becomes involved with the town of Marysville and develops a crush on the first girl he meets, Lil Spicer. He then takes a job at her father's deli as a delivery boy. He spends every Saturday at the library to learn how to draw by copying paintings of birds by John James Audubon. He inspires the old grouch, Mrs. Windermere, to compose a play for Broadway. But just as Marysville starts to become bearable, Doug's brother is arrested for a crime that he didn't commit. Then Doug's other brother comes back from serving in the Vietnam War wounded. To make matters even worse, Audubon's paintings in the library are being sold off, one by one. Doug faces his troubles and, in the process, grows as a human being.

Are the characters believable?

Asking if the characters in Okay for Now are believable is like asking if birds can fly. Author Gary D. Schmidt's writing style perfectly captures how a teenager like Doug would react in his situation. Whenever something happens to Doug, be it good or bad, you feel the same as he does. Surprisingly, that same amount of detail applies to all the minor characters involved, whether it's Doug's brother, Lucas, who must face the hardships of being wheelchair-bound, or Mrs. Windermere, whose struggle to compose her play forces Doug into situations he couldn't have anticipated. As Doug's relationship with Lil evolves—and takes a surprising turn toward the end—you see his mood change as any kid's would in the same situation. As you read this book, you'll feel like you're a citizen of Marysville, going through the same troubles and triumphs that Doug experiences throughout the book.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being best), how would you rate this book?

Okay for Now is easily a 10, but if it were possible, I would give it an 11. Some people don't understand how much major and even minor events can impact a child, but Gary D. Schmidt obviously knows. Schmidt describes everything Doug does so vividly and passionately that you'll most definitely be hooked. And just when you think everything is over, yet another event happens that prompts you to read on. You don't need to be a fan of realistic fiction to enjoy the story. If you've ever found yourself in a difficult situation, or know how it feels to be a teenager, you will relate to this book.

 

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