Recently, I finished reading Okay For Now, a 368 page book by Gary D. Schmidt. Gary Schmidt is a professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received both a Newbery Honor and a Printz Honor for Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy and a Newbery Honor for The Wednesday Wars. He lives with his family on a 150-year-old farm in Alto, Michigan, where he splits wood, plants gardens, writes, and feeds the wild cats that drop by. Currently, I am reading the Newbery honor winning book The Wednesday Wars. I chose this book because it looked very interesting.
In the first half of the book, Doug Swieteck, an 8th grader and his family move to a small town in upstate New York after his bad tempered father loses his job. When Doug meets a girl named Lil, she challenges him to prove that he is not the “skinny thug” that they think he his. Doug follows her into the library and he finds the works of Audubon on display and befriends a librarian, who persuades him to try drawing. Later in the book, when news reaches the Swietecks about Doug’s older brother Lucas returning from Vietnam, they are stunned that he lost both legs above the knee and lost his eyes. Towards the end of the book, you find out that Doug and Lil have a thing for eachother when Lil gets terribly ill and only has a 1 in 4 chance of surviving.
There were many resolutions to the main characters problems throughout the book. One of them was his relationship with his dad. His dad seemed to have partially sobered up and lightened up. He is also no longer beating Doug. Another resolution was when Lucas gets a job as assistant gym coach with coach Reed who is also a Vietnam Veteran. I was angry when Lucas is in a wheelchair and Doug and the Swietecks see him for the first time since he went to Vietnam, and he was missing his eyes and he was missing his legs. They roll him out of the hospital in New York City and they can hear “stop the war protests”. The protesters marched over to them. When they looked at his brother they said he got what he deserved. They were glad his eyes were gone. And they were glad his legs were gone. All of the protesters crowded around them and they had to push through. They even spit on him. When I was reading the book, initially I thought that they were going to be super sympathetic to him so when they did that it made me sad and angry.
In the beginning of the book, when Doug first moves he calls the town “the dump” and he doesn’t have any friends there. Once he meets Lil and goes to the library it sparks his respect for the culture of the town.
Finally, I liked this passage in the book. “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?” I liked this passage because it perfectly represents Doug’s personality. This quote also made me laugh.
I rate Okay For Now for now a 9 out of 10.