Friday, March 16, 2012

OK for Now by Gary Schmidt

It has been a while since I posted.  I had just gotten about half way through a long fantasy when I received two new review books from SLJ in the mail.  So I returned the fantasy, and read through the review books.  In the mean time, however, I was listening to the recorded book of OK for Now which I just finished.  Wow! what a book.  How did this not win the Newbery last year?  Could Dead End in Norvelt be better than this? (I will find out soon because I have it on hold.) I know there was a lot of talk about Schmit's book winning the Newbery, and it was a National Book Award finalist.  The amazing thing about this book is the voice.  Doug's voice is completely authentic and believable. You can feel this kid with so much against him struggling to decide if the world is a good place or a bad one. His father's cruelty could make him become bitter and cruel as well, but you are cheering for him to rise above it. The guy that did the recorded book nailed Doug's personality perfectly.  If you have kids age 10 plus, and need a book to listen to on a long road trip, this is a great one. I don't recommend it for anyone under 10 though.  There are some tough spots in it. One part made me sob while I was driving the car and I was afraid I might crash.This is actually a companion book to Wednesday Wars, which I also really liked, and is not quite as gritty as this one.  The main character in this book is the friend of Holling in that book, but is not necessary to read Wednesday Wars first. 

In this book Doug has a loser father who has a hard time keeping a job.  When Doug's dad loses his job in Long Island, his family moves to a smaller town upstate, named Marysville. As a big city kid in a small town Doug has an instant reputation as a thug which is hard to live down because his middle brother pretty much acts like a thug.  Luckily Doug makes friends with a spunky girl named Lil and she helps "Stupid Marysville" -and Doug himself- see Doug as something much more than a just a  hoodlum.  With the help of kind teachers and good neighbors, and with the inspiration of the art of Audubon, Doug finds the courage to face both his father's cruelty, and his oldest brother's war injuries and come out in the end doing "OK for now." (360 p)