Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Property of

Okay For Now
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Clarion Books
Pub Date:


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 Audubons 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.  

Many times I've heard the call for great books with male protagonists.  Well, Okay for Now is  realistic, emotional and very well written.  It's no wonder Gary Schmidt has won multiple prestigious awards for his writing.  And I'm beyond honored to write of review of his book before it's even released.

Description:  Gary Schmidt has an amazing way of describing things without the reader knowing it.  Everything is so well blended that pictures just appeared in my head.  I never felt distracted by long verses of description, yet immediately my mind effortlessly disappeared into the world of Doug Swieteck.  I FELT like I was in Yankee Stadium or the Dump or anywhere this story took me.  And to me, THAT is the best kind of reading I could ever find. (Score: 10/10)

Narrative:  Conversational is the only term I can think of to describe Gary Schmidt's writing style for this book.  I always felt Doug was talking to me-even when he was thinking to himself.  Rarely can I find a book that so immerses me in a character's head like this one.  Every word was worth reading, absorbing and loving.  The most amazing part?  Some of the references used were of little or no interest to me before I read it-but now I find I'm curious to learn more.    (Score: 10/10)

Dialogue:  Due to Gary Schmidt's casual narrative style, the dialogue always flowed naturally in the text.  Nothing was forced.  Doug and Lil  and all the characters authentically spoke to each other.  In addition, it felt like, as the reader, I was a part of the conversation, especially when Doug was talking with the school principal.  This book was a great lesson for me that less CAN be more.  Okay for Now speaks in ways I can only hope to imitate someday. (Score: 10/10)

Characterization:  Every character is distinct, interesting and changes throughout the book.  Gary Schmidt REALLY amazed me with the way he showed this.  The story starts with Doug knowing where he stands in his new community but never loses sight of his own beliefs.  I love the way every character responds to Doug and the way it gradually changes over time.  And really, what's shown is more about human nature than so many other books I've read.  And I think that's what makes this book so very readable.  (Score: 10/10)

Resolution:  The end of the book is gradual, calm, uplifting and absolutely perfect for me. I love how not only the character grows but teaches others to as well.  And for a YA book, I couldn't ask for more.  I know kids of all ages can change the world, if we'd only open our eyes and let them.  I know kids have valid thoughts and ideas, no matter the age.  The end of Okay for Now so inspired me to want to be a better writer, so I can help spread the word that our youth is the answer to all of our questions.  (Score: 10/10)

Okay for Now will be on my list of favorite books forever.  It's readable, relate-able, and SO not boring.  There isn't one negative comment I could make about this book, I loved it so much.  I'd recommend this to readers of all ages, boys and girls.  Librarians and teachers should have it in their schools.  I think the world has so much to learn and Gary Schmidt makes the lessons easy and fun.  I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.  


  1. I did not care for this one at all. Thank you for the positive review.

  2. Ms. Yingling, does that mean his other books are better...hmmm, will have to look into reading them. Thanks.