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 ow
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it was amazing
My favourite books are always those that prove me wrong, that break my own rules. I used to say I didn’t like the traditional or “high” fantasy genre, and then Megan Whalen Turner and Melina Marchetta proved that I had actually just not found the right brand of traditional fantasy to suit me. As a rule, I tend to avoid like the plague young adult books that are about dealing with the death of a loved one or teenage pregnancy… but Please Ignore Vera Dietz and How to Save a Life proved that I ju
But Schmidt somehow manages to handle his characters so expertly that it’s okay. No, more than that, it’s bloody brilliant. In this book, Doug Swieteck – a character we first meet in The Wednesday Wars – comes back to tell his own story, one which is far more painful and sad than Holling’s. At first it seems like the entire world is out to get Doug, his family have had to move to a small crappy house in a small crappy town, his father is abusive, his brother is a bully, everything good that comes into his life is eventually taken from him. Not only that, but Doug has a few secret problems that it is becoming increasingly difficult for him to hide. And I’m sure that so far it sounds like every typical teen “issue book” filled with the usual melodrama. But no.
Because people are not what they seem and even the worst have the capacity for good and change. What I love most is the way Schmidt makes every character count, he introduces many people into this story and you will find yourself forming opinions of them straight away, only to discover that they are way more multidimensional than that. The author throws up constant surprises and when you think you’ve finally figured out what kind of novel you are reading and what sort of story this is supposed to be, it turns out you’re wrong. Every single character in this novel gets the chance to be a person not just an archetype, they are made up of good and bad, they all have faults and they all have positive qualities also. To build so many complex individuals into your story must be challenging and this novel has firmly cemented Mr Schmidt into one of my favourite authors of all time.
I said at the beginning of this review that some of my favourite books are the ones that challenge and break the rules I have made for myself about what I like to read, and I think I’m starting to get some idea of what makes these rule-breakers so special: it is because that, even though they fall into the category I typically don’t like, they are actually so much more than that. And it is mostly to do with the characters. To simplify Marchetta’s Lumatere series by calling it merely “traditional fantasy” is unforgivable when I think about the richness of the world she has created and the range of personalities in it. Same with Please Ignore Vera Dietz and How to Save a Life, they are not simply about death and teen pregnancy, they are about colourful characters that are so well-crafted they feel real. And Okay for Now is the same.
This book is about a lot of things. It is about small town gossip and how you can be ostracised because of the mistakes and failures of those close to you. It’s about learning to see the world in a new way – which sounds totally trite but, trust me, it works. It really works! I think that is this book’s real triumph: Schmidt takes a few simple and overdone ideas, mixes them up a bit, and churns out something completely original. And isn’t that the best kind of story?
it was amazing
Actual rating : 4.5 stars
There is something to be said for a book which manages to make me tear out on page 3 over a jacket, don’t you think?
Indeed Okay for Now is a beautiful coming of age story which is every bit as powerful as what I expect from my favorite authors in the YA realistic genre, such as A.S. King, Melina Marchetta or Hannah Moskowitz.
What you need to know is that every character, even the weirdest of all, rings true, and above that, evolves throughout the story. Be prepared for
it was amazing
If you’ve read The Wednesday Wars, you already know the main character of this novel – Doug Swieteck. While this companion novel follows the formula and themes of The Wednesday Wars, Doug’s story is a heavier one. Holling’s problems are nothing compared to Doug’s. His father is quick with his hands, his elder