Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Doug Swieteck, a teen boy with an abusive father, troubled brother, and absolutely zero true friends is now being thrown into a strange new environment; a tiny town in upstate New York called Marysville . He has no hope for a better life in this steamy town and intends to just stay out of it. Things aren’t so great so far, until Doug meets Lil who gets him a gig as a delivery man, joins his bird-drawing adventures at the library, and helps him through this tough time.
What I Thought of Okay for Now
This 1950’s set realistic fiction book is so utterly boring, I could barely bring myself to finish it. Hardly anything happens, and nothing too significant, so it is hard to believe Okay For Now is over 350 pages! Half of the time, Doug just wallowed in his personal troubles as the author tried to come up with some charming wit and humor which did not work out. The tone was that the character is supposed to be talking to you as the reader, but it honestly did not work out in this book! The character building was fair but Lil seems to just pop into Doug’s life and as “friends”, Doug only occasionally had conversations with her. This made the mini romance at the end of the book even more confusing and unnecessary. I thought that Doug’s distraught brother was developed well, and found it interesting how Doug initially calls him “my brother” and then calls him by his real name after he makes his turn-around. He was probably my favorite character and I think he should have been incorporated in more of the story. Many of the other characters I thought were going to be somewhat important seemed to just come and go. The same thing is true for events. The whole book begins with the Joe Pepitone baseball cap that really had hardly any significance whatsoever to the rest of the story. Also, the ending of this book is rushed and vague, which makes me wonder why there weren’t signs of (***SPOILER ALERT***!!) Lil’s sickness before-hand.
Although the idea was sufficient, with unique aspects such as the James Audubon’s birds, art, and small, almost remote town, but the author really stretched the story and made for a tiresome read. Additionally, I didn’t really see how Doug’s mother fit into the story, as all the other family members are somewhat troubled and she seemed perfectly normal. Nobody even seemed too bothered or tempted to intervene and help the angered father. If I was Doug, I would live in endless fear of his father, but he seems more frightened of his eventually fine brother. This confused me a lot. Action lovers would most likely despise this book, and even some realistic fiction readers may not like it. Overall, this excessively dull novel is not at all a read for people like me, so I would not recommend it.
One memorable moment in this generally non-memorable book is when Doug’s brother gradually turns his life around and proves his family wrong. I thought this was a strong and brave move for him, and that it should have show Doug’s father that he could change also.