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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review: Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication date: April 2011
ISBN: 9780547152608
Source: Library


Okay for Now 

Doug Switeck has never had it easy.  But when his family moves to Marysville so his father can get a job, things become even worse.  Everyone soon accuses Doug's brother of some local burglaries and Doug becomes guilty by association.  His teachers at school, especially the gym teacher and principal, have it out for him and life is just as crummy as possible.  But, can discovering a new talent and some new friends make Doug's life a little more bearable?

Things I Liked:
Wow.  Mr. Schmidt is a master at the middle grade novel.  This book has everything from feeling like you stand in the shadow of your older siblings to thoughts on the Vietnam War and dealing with a crooked father.  Doug has more than his fair share of rotten days and rotten experiences, but the best thing about the book is how just one or two beautiful things that happen to him can change the way he thinks.  When one teacher decides to help Doug out, when one friends sticks by him, when one person praises him, you can really feel what an impact that has in his life.  Schmidt creates these pitch perfect voices for his characters.  Doug is the right mixture of vulnerable, punk, and sarcastic humor that he literally feels like your surly younger brother.  I laughed and then cried and then did more of the same through the entire book.  I cheered for his successes and mourned his sorrows.  One of the very best books I've read in a long time.  And if you liked The Wednesday Wars, you'll love Okay for Now.  Here are some favorite parts:

When she finished, she took the bottle away from her lips - she was still smiling - and she sighed, and then she squared her shoulders and kind of adjusted herself like she was in a batter's box, and then she let out a belch that even my brother couldn't match, not on his very best day.
It was amazing. It made birds fly out of the maples in front of the library.  Dogs asleep on porches a couple of blocks way probably woke up.  p 29
She came over and looked at the picture.  Then she took my hand.
You know what that feels like?
Like what the astronauts will feel when they step onto the moon for the very first time...
Like someone seeing what a chump you are and getting you a cold Coke anyway.
Like possibility.  p 226-227
In English, Miss Cowper was throwing us into the Introduction to Poetry Unit like it was as all-fired important as the moon shot.  You know, there are good reasons for learning how to read.  Poetry isn't one of them.  I mean, so what if two roads go two ways in a wood?  So what?  Who cares if it made all that big a difference?  What difference?  And why should I have to guess what the difference is?  Isn't that what he's supposed to say?  Why can't poets just say what they want to say and then shut up? p 235
And you know what I was going to do?  I was going to shriek like an insane woman who has been locked in an attic for a great many years.
In front of Joe Pepitone.
You know what that feels like?
You can't know what that feels like, because no one has ever had to shriek like an insane woman who has been locked in an attic for a great many years in front of Joe Pepitone.  
I couldn't do it.  
I wouldn't do it.  
Not in front of Joe Pepitone. p 313
Things I Didn't Like:
This is not an action book.  It is fairly slow moving and focuses definitely more on characters than action.  Also, I was a little surprised at the changes his dad made at the end.  They seemed a bit sudden.  Still, this is truly one of the best I've read.  Ever.


Read-alikes:
The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt


BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: *****

I can't think of anyone who writes quite like Schmidt. Can you?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

5 comments :

  1. I can't wait to get to this one. I loved The Wednesday Wars!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree: Schmidt is one of the best middle grade writers out there. Unique and brilliant. Glad you liked this one.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, one of the best you've read! What a stellar recommendation. I'll have to read it soon, then. I loved Wednesday Wars, and Lizzie Bright was good, too (just so sad, if I'm remembering correctly). Thanks for the review!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jenny, I think you'll love this then.

    Melissa, so true he is a master!

    Melissa, I hope you love it too.

    Bailey, I've yet to read Lizzie Bright, but I really must.

    ReplyDelete

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