Okay for Now
Gary Schmidt
2011

Okay for Now is one of those books that has a perfect title. I truly cannot think of a better title to sum up this gem. It has perfect pitch, too. You will laugh, cry, grimace, wince, smile, gasp–all on the same page sometimes. And, it passes one of my hardest tests: a perfect ending. I’m hard on endings–especially when you have to wrap up this many loose ends. But Schmidt gives us an okay for now ending….

Doug Swietek has just moved to a new city with his family (which includes loving mom, jerk of an older brother, and abusive father–and a third oldest brother who’s off fighting in the Vietnam War). Doug is a wonderful character full of lovable quirks; he grows up throughout the book and, in the process, reaches out to others in a completely unpretentious and beautiful way.

Schmidt has created a masterpiece here–there’s no wonder this book is getting serious Newbery buzz (we’ll find out this winter). Why is this book so good? It deals with hard stuff in a way that is uplifting and unique. We love some characters, hate other characters, and cheer on the underdog. We see tender moments as well as terrible moments. Schmidt has this amazing ability to communicate deep, profound statements about Doug’s life without using many words. It’s hard to describe really. You just have to read it for yourself!

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