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Okay for Nowby Gary D. Schmidt
Synopses & Reviews
As a fourteen-year-old who just moved to a new town, with no friends and a louse for an older brother, Doug Swieteck has all the stats stacked against him.
So begins a coming-of-age masterwork full of equal parts comedy and tragedy from Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt. As Doug struggles to be more than the “skinny thug” that his teachers and the police think him to be, he finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer — a fiery young lady who "smelled like daisies would smell if they were growing in a big field under a clearing sky after a rain." In Lil, Doug finds the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a whole town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Together, they find a safe haven in the local library, inspiration in learning about the plates of John James Audubon's birds, and a hilarious adventure on a Broadway stage.
In this stunning novel, Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.
"This companion to The Wednesday Wars follows the formula of Schmidt's Newbery Honor winner with less success. Doug Swieteck, a prankster in the previous book, has graver problems than Holling Hoodhood did, making the interplay of pathos and slapstick humor an uneasy fit. In summer 1968, the Swietecks leave Long Island for the Catskills, where Doug's father has found work. Doug's mother (like Holling's) is kind but ineffectual; Mr. Swieteck is a brutish jerk. His abuse of his three sons, one of whom is currently in Vietnam, happens mostly offstage, but one episode of unthinkable cruelty is recounted as a flashback to explain why Doug refuses to take off his shirt in gym class. Doug does make two key friends: Lil, whose father owns the deli for which Doug becomes delivery boy, and the less fleshed-out Mr. Powell, a librarian who instantly sees Doug's potential as an artist. There are lovely moments, but the late addition of an implausible subplot in which Lil, who has never shown an interest in acting, is drafted for a role in a Broadway play, seems desultory considering the story's weightier elements. Ages 10 — 14. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWxyz LLC)
"This is Schmidt's best novel yet — darker than The Wednesday Wars and written with more restraint, but with the same expert attention to voice, character and big ideas." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Readers will miss Doug and his world when they're done, and will feel richer for having experienced his engaging, tough, and endearing story." School Library Journal (Starred Review)
"The book is exceptionally well written. Schmidt creates characters that will remain with the reader long after the book is done. Doug's voice is unforgettable as he tries to help and protect his mom....While there is much stacked against him, he is a character filled with hope that the reader cannot help but root for. Push this one on readers; they will not be sorry....Schmidt writes a journal-type story with a sharp attention to detail, patterns in the story line, and an unexpected twist at the end." VOYA
In this stunning novel, Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.
“Henry Smiths father told him that if you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you.”
But Trouble comes careening down the road one night in the form of a pickup truck that strikes Henrys older brother, Franklin. In the truck is Chay Chouan, a young Cambodian from Franklins preparatory school, and the accident sparks racial tensions in the school—and in the well-established town where Henrys family has lived for generations. Caught between anger and grief, Henry sets out to do the only thing he can think of: climb Mt. Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine, which he and Franklin were going to climb together. Along with Black Dog, whom Henry has rescued from drowning, and a friend, Henry leaves without his parents knowledge. The journey, both exhilarating and dangerous, turns into an odyssey of discovery about himself, his older sister, Louisa, his ancestry, and why one can never escape from Trouble.
Though he thinks of himself as a cowboy, Tommy is really a bully. He's always playing cruel jokes on classmates or stealing from the store. But Tommy has a reason: life at home is tough. His abusive mother isn't well; in fact, she may be mentally ill, and his sister, Mary Lou, is in the hospital badly burned from doing a chore it was really Tommy's turn to do. To make amends, Tommy takes over Mary Lou's paper route. But the paper route also becomes the perfect way for Tommy to investigate his neighbors after stumbling across a copy of The Daily Worker, a communist newspaper.
Tommy is shocked to learn that one of his neighbors could be a communist, and soon fear of a communist in this tight-knit community takes hold of everyone when Tommy uses the paper to frame a storeowner, Mr. McKenzie. As Mr. McKenzie's business slowly falls apart and Mary Lou doesn't seem to get any better, Tommy's mother's abuse gets worse causing Tommy's bullying to spiral out of control.
Poignantly written, Kristin Levine proves herself a master of gripping and affecting historical fiction.
About the Author
Gary D. Schmidt is the bestselling author of Okay For Now, the Newbery Honor and Printz Honor book Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, and the Newbery Honor book The Wednesday Wars. He is a professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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