Jess's Reviews > Okay for Now

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
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Aug 14, 11

bookshelves: juv, historical-fiction, national-book-award-finalist, mock-newbery-2012, odyssey-honor
Read in August, 2011

Copied from my review of the audio version.

If you liked The Wednesday Wars, you must read this. Schmidt hits a lot of the same notes again, but his style - the voice, the characters, the whole thing - is so pitch perfect that I immediately wanted to start it over from the beginning (a rare feeling for me). In fact, I listened to the audio and then read the print version a few months later. The only downside to the audio is that you'll want to look up the Audubon illustrations in a book or online, because they're really key to the story. When I reread the print version, I found myself flipping back to that chapter's illustration anytime the image was discussed.

The book's only flaw is that it stuffs in a few too many things plot-wise, but for me that never detracted from the story. Not perfect, but pretty close. And I'm not lying.

Source: my public library

A few notes I took on my second read (with the print version in hand), mostly prompted by discussions about the book in the Mock Newbery group. I wanted some specific examples of things I think Schmidt does really well in order to respond to points other readers made.

P. 63: Doug ends one section with, "I stood there like a chump. You see how things never go right when you're feeling good?" The next section begins with his father saying, "You see how things never go right when you're feeling good?" To me, Doug and his brothers and his father are all part of a cycle of violence - watching the way Doug chooses to sometimes follow in his brothers' and father's footsteps, while other times he manages to break away. Here, he's obviously repeating a sentiment that's become ingrained after years of hearing his father talk this way.

P. 84: Doug describes taking his mother out for ice cream and paying, and then says, "You know how that felt?" I love the way Schmidt does this with Doug's voice - the way Doug asks us a question that reveals so much more about his emotions than saying "that felt good." It's so in character for Doug.

P. 143: The same thing happens again, only with a negative situation, when Doug is finally forced out of his gym shirt. "And what they saw--it's not any of your stupid business." It leaves you hanging and lets your imagination get to work, because you know it's bad. But without Doug ever coming out and saying it's bad.

P. 156: The watches. I love Doug's pride in ownership here, and again he doesn't just say it, he shows how he feels, just like with Joe Pepitone's jacket.

P. 171: When Doug goes to the paper mill and learns that the baseball and hundred dollars were sent home with his father, and rather than outing his father to Mr. Ballard, he just tells us, "It was just like my father said. You shouldn't count on anything." Just kills me.
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