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Okay for Now

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  32,350 ratings  ·  5,481 reviews

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

Hardcover, 360 pages
Published April 5th 2011 by Clarion Books
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Okay for Now by Gary D. SchmidtA Monster Calls by Patrick NessWonderstruck by Brian SelznickDivergent by Veronica RothInside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Newbery 2012
147 books — 741 voters
Divergent by Veronica RothBetween Shades of Gray by Ruta SepetysA Monster Calls by Patrick NessOkay for Now by Gary D. SchmidtDaughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
Mock Printz 2012
50 books — 281 voters

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Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  32,350 ratings  ·  5,481 reviews

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Emily May
Sep 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Emily May by: Tatiana
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 ...more
Nov 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
I don't think I've cried this much over a book since Mockingjay. Okay for Now must be one of the most bitter-sweet stories out there. Exhilarating is probably the best word to describe it.

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
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ by: Emily May

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
oh, wow.

ariel is going to be so cross with me - this betrayal is worse than my love of graceling. but it has to be said: i liked this book even better than the wednesday wars.

i gave them both 4 stars because i'm nutty like that, but i feel more for this character than for goody-gumdrops holling, even though i did love the wednesday wars a lot.

doug's obstacles are just so much greater than having to wear feathers on his b*tt, and while he remains eerily good-natured throughout his struggles, he
I read this in one evening, staying up until after midnight on a school night to read it. Gary Schmidt is a genius and I fell in love with Doug.
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing

Consider the following: an author proposes writing a middle grade novel involving John James Audubon’s Birds of America, an emotionally abusive father, a Vietnam veteran brother, the classic novel Jane Eyre, the New York Yankees, an eccentric playwright, a business executive who is both an expert at horseshoes as he is at cultivating orchids – you would probably consider him crazy and usher him out the door. But only author Gary Schmidt could weave all the
Gary Schmidt’s earlier work,The Wednesday Wars, introduced readers to Doug Swieteck as a secondary character, but Doug takes front stage in Okay For Now, its 2011 companion novel. While they are both quirky, Okay For Now is riddled with darkness that its predecessor didn’t have, and that kind of heaviness usually appeals to me, at least when it is well done. After reading both of these books, Gary Schmidt has shot himself in the foot going forward; From here on out, I’ll be expecting perfection. ...more
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
2012 F.A.B. Bookclub pick # I.❤️. F.A.B.

Great read of finding the good in seriously bad situations. You think you know what’s going to happen, or judge the characters by first impressions and end up being pleasantly surprised.

First, I think I should say two things: a)This review is going to be really cheesy, and b)that horrific cover does in NO WAY this book justice. I don't care if this is a 'boy' book aimed at middle schoolers, it made this seventeen-year old girl cry and laugh and cry some more to the point that everyone else in my house was a little worried (thank goodness I didn't read this in public).

I can't even quote the best parts in this book because each line builds upon everything you know about
Jul 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Catie by: Minli
Shelves: ya, audio, read-in-2011
I think that it may have been a mistake to read this so quickly after finishing The Wednesday Wars. Going into this I just kept noticing things…like the way that Doug goes along with everything until he learns to stand up for himself…or the way that there are special teachers who help him improve his life…or the way that he is inspired by art, and interprets it differently based on his different life situations.

Do you know what that feels like?

When you’re reading a second novel from an author wh
Jan 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
There are three kinds of literary sequels for kids out there. First, you have the sequel that is so intricately tied into the plot of the first book that not a page goes by that you don’t feel you’re missing something if you skipped Book #1. The second kind of sequel nods to the first book and brings up continual facts from it, but is a coherant story in its own right. The third kind of sequel makes mention of facts and/or people in the first book but if you read the story on your own you might ...more
Dave Schaafsma
I wrote this in August 2012: This is a very moving book by Calvin College English Professor Gary Schmidt that should be up for Printz and National Book awards. It's about the redemptive power of art in the face of trauma. It's also about the healing power of teaching, and about writing; all the characters are sharply etched, the dialogue is spot on, it's wrenchingly sad and also very funny, but is especially moving as Schmidt examines (through the teaching of an artist-librarian) the composition ...more
Apr 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-ya
If there's any justice in the world, this should be sporting a Medal or two after next ALA Midwinter. If anything, though, I think Doug Swieteck's experiences in a new small town as he finds his balance and helps several other people regain their own is a TOO rich melange of themes, metaphors, characters of varying intellectual and emotional depth, chain-pulling lines for teachers and librarians, twists on conventional triumphs (specifically the Meeting A Famous Real Athlete one and the Being In ...more
Lynn Pribus
May 30, 2011 rated it liked it
I did enjoy this YA novel -- but somehow it felt just a bit "off." As if it was written for Newberry Award judges rather than kids, even if Doug often says "I'm not lying."

Kids don't know about Audubon without some explanation (which could easily have been provided by the Wise Older Man at the library.) Kids don't "get" references to "Dear Reader, I kissed her," even though Doug had been reading JANE EYRE in class -- a VERY unlikely eighth grade assignment, even in 1965. I think it was still SI
Daniel Burton
By the time I finished Okay for Now, I had read almost forty books this year. And while a large number of them were geared towards teens, especially boys. On my list this year there is James Dashner's gripping taleThe Maze Runner, where Lord of the Flies meets Lost. In fantasy, I read Brandon Mull's A World Without Heroes and Brandon Sanderson's The Rithmatist, both excellent in their own right. Robison Wells' Variant kept me turning pages late into the night, as did David Farland's Nightingale. ...more
Abby Johnson
Aug 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: blogged
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. This book broke my heart about 17 times and patched it back together each time.

Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing

I'm not lying.

And I'm no chump in saying so.

Perhaps I should just leave it at that and hope you have the good sense to buy and read the book, if you haven't already.

Everyone should.

OKAY FOR NOW deserves the Newbery Award --- not a Newbery Honor, but the award, in my humble opinion.

And my opinion is humble, but it better be accurate in this case. I have to warn you, I have Christopher Swieteck waiting in the wings to do some arm-twisting.

This is a book about family --- mostly, the Swiete
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
Jun 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
WoW. What a powerful story 😍😭
Dec 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Skeptics of young adult literature
Recommended to Agnė by: Self Respect Teen Lit Book Group

“Okay for Now” by Gary Schmidt is a heartwarming young adult historical novel centered around eighth grader Douglas Swieteck. After Doug’s abusive father loses his job, the whole family moves to Marysville in upstate New York. In the new town, Doug’s older brother is accused of robbery, and Doug himself is struggling to be more than just a “skinny thug” that some townsfolk believe him to be. However, things start to look different when Doug befriends Lil Spicer, the daughter of
Sep 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Doug Swieteck is real. I swear he's real. I'm not lying.

This is the kind of book that when you set it down and look up, you have to blink a few times before you remember where you are. And when reality hits you, you get this sinking sensation in your chest and you feel like crying. Because in reality, there isn't a fourteen-year-old boy named Doug Swieteck who just moved into a dumpy house in a small town in New York. It isn't 1969, the Vietnam War is long over, and space travel has lost its won
Mike Mullin
Apr 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I'm pretty sure I just finished the 2012 Newbery winner. Yeah, it's that good. If this is becomes another Gary Schmidt should-have-won, I may have to commit career suicide by picketing the ALA. ...more
May 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everybody in this book needs a hug, and I'm not lying.

There were plenty of people I wanted to throw in the lake at one point or another.

But Gary D. Schmidt is pretty amazing at making you realize that even people who deserve thrown in a lake are probably just in need of hugs.

(I have plenty of other thoughts but I'm saving them for my blog.)

(UPDATE: here is the blog post which includes my expanded first impressions: I'm afraid you'll have to scroll way
Cait Poytress
I don't know you, Gary D. Schmidt, but I love you. I had to stop reading your latest book while in the doctor's waiting room because it was making me cry. This was literally about 30 seconds after it made me laugh out loud. Some of Doug's one liners were so hilarious I had to read them to my oldest daughter. And you know that noise you sometimes make when you are trying so hard not to cry, that little squeak that escapes from your tightly pursed lips? No? Oh, me either. That totally didn't happe ...more
Sam Fletcher
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is honestly one of the most special books I've ever read. on several occasions I was moved to tears. I almost can't even formulate a proper thought.

The writing style is so simple, through the voice of this young boy. Doug personally experiences so much, as well as his family. His story is almost equally tragic as it is beautiful.

The book started off pretty slow, but the pace picked up when the family made the move to Marysville. That's when I was unable to put the book down. That's when I
Jen from Quebec :0)
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, school
I ate this book up in 2 days, it was that great. As protagonist Doug would say: "Do you know what that feels like!?" I do- "Terrific", as he would also say. The main reason this YA book was so good is because of Doug himself- the 14 year old narrator of the novel. His VOICE is so distinctly HIS, that readers can easily feel what he does about the various events in his life both good (learning to draw) and bad (his abusive dad). He often repeats the same phrases, making him become a familiar frie ...more
I’m absolutely in love with Okay For Now by Gary D. Scmidt. Whether it’s the endearing characters -in particular Doug Swieteck who worships Joe Pepitone and is concerned about being a chump, the multiple themes that all built on each other, the late 1960s setting in MY state or Scmidt’s capture of the essence of growing up. Frankly, it’s love. My feelings for Okay For Now, that is.

Read the rest of my review here
Feb 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Funny, heartbreaking, and so emotionally true it will wring readers right out. It captures 1968-69 with effortless exactitude.
Melissa McShane
Doug’s life isn’t going so well. His father is an abusive drunk, his brother is on the path to becoming a felon, his mother is out of her depth, and he’s just moved to a small upstate New York town where he knows no one. Worse, everyone looks at his brother and assumes Doug is just like him. But Doug is about to discover truths about himself that will change his life, and might just make a few other people change too.

I can’t say enough good about this book. Doug’s voice is strong and compelling
Dec 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Louis Sachar, Disney, or The Wonder Years vibe
Recommended to Ceecee by: Emily May
I hate Doug Swieteck.

I hate what a chump he is, that he's a bundle of insecurities, conflicts, trying to be a tough guy, but really he's soft inside. You can't believe how much I dislike "bad boys", I can't believe Doug could make me hate him so much. Here's this troubled kid, with quite a shitty dad, a troublesome brother, thank God he has a wonderful mother,and this new kid in town, Doug, no one likes him, he's not exactly Holling Hoodhood, but he's a really good kid. A really good kid. And th
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Gary D. Schmidt is an American children's writer of nonfiction books and young adult novels, including two Newbery Honor books. He lives on a farm in Alto, Michigan,with his wife and six children, where he splits wood, plants gardens, writes, feeds the wild cats that drop by and wishes that sometimes the sea breeze came that far inland. He is a Professor of English at Calvin College.


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  Jordan Morris is a comedy writer and podcaster whose credits include @Midnight, Unikitty! and Earth to Ned.  The sci-fi comedy Bubble is his...
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“Mr. Powell raised an eyebrow. 'I'm a librarian,' he said. 'I always know what I'm talking about.” 203 likes
“You know, there are good reasons to learn 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?”
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