August 2, 2011

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

You may remember Doug Swieteck from Gary Schmidt's Wednesday Wars. Doug is now the main character, in another warm Schmidt novel that takes place in the 70's. Doug is angry, and has good reason to be, with an abusive father, a cruel brother, and forced to move from Long Island to a small town in upstate New York as he enters the eighth grade. He hates his new town, he hates his new school, but finds solace when he visits the library where he discovers a book by James Audobon, and his beautiful illustrations of birds. The librarian, Mr. Powell, takes the time to teach Doug how to draw like Audobon. Doug is able to make parallels from what he sees in the drawings to his own life, which creates the organization for the book (each chapter is named and illustrated by one of the drawings from the book). Told in Doug's voice, you meet Lil Spicer whose friendship with Doug allows him to work for her father's grocery store, making grocery deliveries to people in the town, some of whom Doug gets close to. You will be angered and frustrated with Doug's father, his brother, Principal Peattie, and Coach Reed, but be uplifted by the others that support Doug in overcoming the adversity he faces. This book is touching, and will bring tears from the hurt Doug must confront, and joy from the support of those that care for him.
Read Reeds Score: 5

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