Beverly B, August 4, 2013 (view all comments by Beverly B)
Okay For Now is a dark, sometimes sad, often witty, very realistic coming of age story with an optimistic ending. The relationships between protagonist, Doug, and the townspeople he meets on his daily grocery deliveries are engaging and entertaining, especially his humorous relationship with the town's notorious grumpy old lady, Mrs. Windermere. Doug is the youngest son of a violently abusive alcoholic father and an enabling mother. After his father gets fired from yet another job, the family moves to a small factory town and into a run down house on the wrong side of the tracks. The secrets he thinks he must keep, and the lies he thinks he must tell, make it almost impossible for Doug to fit in or make friends. Like many children of alcoholics, Doug uses anger and bitterness to keep people from getting too close and maybe discovering his secrets. Luckily for Doug, there are a couple people in town who persevere through his anger to connect with him - classmate, Lillian and librarian, Mr. Powell. Readers of Gary D. Schmidt's companion novel, The Wednesday Wars, know what will follow. Mr. Powell recognizes Doug's great talent for drawing and takes Doug on as an art student. Lil recognizes that Doug isn't really mean, just lonely, and gets him a job at her Dad's store. She also recognizes that his snarky comments reveal him to be almost as smart as she is which she sees as an entertaining challenge. Although the writing style is appropriate for middle grade readers, the beautiful symbolism of John James Audubon's drawings will be way over their heads, and the excellent descriptions of Audubon's masterful technique will probably bore them. What will keep even reluctant readers engaged is determination to create a happy life for himself, even if the universe is out to stop him. The surprise twist in the crisis event will have many laughing out loud.
Heather Bakke, January 4, 2012 (view all comments by Heather Bakke)
This book is everything you hope kids fiction to be! The main character Doug is a real kid with real problems. Doug has a lot of problems in his life but he decides that he is going to do what it takes to make his life better!
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"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)
by Kirkus Reviews,
"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." (Starred Review)
by School Library Journal,
"Readers will miss Doug and his world when they're done, and will feel richer for having experienced his engaging, tough, and endearing story." (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."
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.
Perfect for fans of Jerry Spinelli and Gary D. Schmidt, this heartfelt coming-of-age story will make you believe in the power of second chances.
Eleven-year-old Sam Brattle is already having the worst Christmas ever his dads bakery is going bankrupt and his mom is spending the holidays with her new family. To make things worse, Nickel Bay Nick, the anonymous Good Samaritan who leaves hundred-dollar bills around Nickel Bay at Christmastime, is a no-show, so this year the rest of the town is as miserable as Sam. When he stumbles upon the secret identity of this mysterious do-gooder, Sam is stunned to learn that he might now be his towns only hope. But before he can rescue Nickel Bay, Sam has to learn the skills of a spy and unravel some even darker secrets that will change his life forever.
If there's one thing I've learned from comic books, it's that everybody has a weakness—something that can totally ruin their day without fail.
For the wolfman it's a silver bullet.
For Superman it's Kryptonite.
For me it was a letter.
With one letter, my dad was sent back to Afghanistan to fly Apache helicopters for the U.S. army.
Now all I have are his letters. Ninety-one of them to be exact. I keep them in his old plastic lunchbox—the one with the cool black car on it that says Knight Rider underneath. Apart from my comic books, Dad's letters are the only things I read more than once. I know which ones to read when I'm down and need a pick-me-up. I know which ones will make me feel like I can conquer the world. I also know exactly where to go when I forget Mom's birthday. No matter what, each letter always says exactly what I need to hear. But what I want to hear the most is that my dad is coming home.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.