Okay for Now

Schmidt, Gary D.

Book - 2011
Average Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
Okay for Now
As a fourteen-year-old who just moved to a new town, with no friends, an abusive father, and a louse for an older brother, Doug Swieteck has all the stats stacked against him until he finds an ally in Lil Spicer--a fiery young lady. Together, they find a safe haven in the local library, inspiration in learning about the plates of John James Audubon's birds, and a hilarious adventure on a Broadway stage.

Publisher: New York : Clarion Books, 2011
ISBN: 0547152604
Branch Call Number: J SCHMIDT
Characteristics: 360 p. : ill. ; 22 cm


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Jun 17, 2014
  • litriocht rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Marysville's denizens include traumatized Vietnam veterans, Doug Swieteck's troubled family, and several authority figures who have preconceived notions about what a hoodlum Doug must be. While Doug is very concerned with not seeming like a "chump" in his hard-knock life, his sensitivity begins to show as the plot progresses.

The accelerated personal growth of characters nudge the book's style away from strict realism and toward a more exaggerated form of realistic historical fiction. This feature of the novel is ultimately a strength, though, as it allows for satisfying resolutions that ring true even as they stretch credibility. This is, simply put, a lovely read.

Jun 16, 2014
  • bagleye rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Good book! Had some serious moments and some humorous moments. Learned a little about how art is made too. I was a teenager about the same time as the setting of this book so was able to relate to a lot of what was going on in the world at the time.

Dec 13, 2013

best book :D

Oct 06, 2013

Awesome book

Jul 20, 2013
  • baker9 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I'm in love with Gary D Schmidt's writing. This book does not disappoint!!! Humor, tragedy, hope, heartache...I laughed and I cried. Such an amazing, relatable story. Some have said that his books can be a little slow, but I think they are perfectly honest: in timing, in mood, in attitude. I love his characters, their dialogue, and his humor...I will definitely read this one again. Along with Wednesday Wars (a companion book).

Apr 15, 2013

Doug Swietek, the bully from The Wednesday Wars, is back in his own book. In 1968, the Swieteks move from Long Island to Marysville, in upstate New York, where his abusive, unemployed dad finds work. The small town is a different world from the suburbs he is used to. Doug, who we previously have seen through the eyes of Holling Hoodhood, turns out to be a lot deeper, talented, and kinder than we initially would think. His oldest brother is returning from Vietnam, and his middle brother is a blossoming juvenile delinquent making himself quickly known to the police.

Doug is offered a job delivering groceries around town for Spicer’s Deli, and he soon meets people, including a sassy girl his age, named Lil Spicer, who just happens to be his boss’s daughter.

Doug begins visiting the library, where he is mesmerized by the intricate lifelike prints in Audubon’s Birds of America. The kindly librarian, Mr. Powell helps Doug to explore his artistic abilities, by allowing him to sketch copies of the prints. Each chapter in the book starts with a copy of a print from the book.

When the kids learn that the town is selling off the valuable Audubon prints one by one to raise money, they set out to recover them. In between, they audition for a Broadway show, win a contest, welcome home Doug’s brother, and build a lasting friendship.

This book offers a great snapshot of small town American life in the late 1960s. It also is a wonderful story of friendship and family. The Newbery Honor winning companion book The Wednesday Wars is one of my favorites, and I am so glad the story continues here, with Doug.
~Alexa Newman, Youth Services Librarian

Mar 28, 2013
  • bwortman rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Schmidt's novel is an intriguing insight into Doug's life in a family that is the definition of dysfunctional against the background of the late 1960s. Doug's voice is extremely distinctive and images from Audubon's book are interwoven with the narrative to great effect. The exploration of Doug's character is a fascinating one. My only complaint is that some of plot elements that came out towards the end of the novel were a little to easy. Overall, however, the book was a great journey to watch Doug grow up.

Oct 20, 2012

This book was just wonderful. I found myself engrossed from the beginning. Schmidt's style is one that speaks to me; rather than just reading the story, you feel it. From start to finish, I loved the writing and the plot. One of the best books I've read recently.

Sep 20, 2012
  • ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

To my mind Gary Schmidt presents worlds that are full of decent people and not so decent people who have reasons for their weirdnesses. Worlds that you either wish you lived in or believe you already live in. There’s nothing easy about this particular Schmidt story. At the same time, it’s incredibly readable and fun. I credit Doug’s voice. There’s much to be said about a hero who can be a complete and total “Lucas” at times and yet still appeal to you. This is historical fiction that surpasses the usual trappings of the genre to become universal. Definitely one of the best books of its year. Catch it and catch it quick.

Sep 18, 2012
  • samdog123 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I really enjoyed this book and found myself identifying so easily with the characters. Doug Swietek moves with his family to a small town after his louse of a Father loses his job. Many themes from the 60's here, the Vietnam war, Space race. Through it all, Doug develops friendships and support system in the town both in and outside of school that help to shape him as a person.

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Jun 26, 2012
  • Yahong_Chi rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

You know one thing that Mr. Powell taught me? He taught me that sometimes, art can make you forget everything else all around you. That’s what art can do. And I guess that’s what happened to Mr. Barber, who forgot that his left foot was behind the back leg of my chair. Who took a step without remembering to take his foot away from the back of my chair. Who tripped, but caught himself. But who couldn’t the coffee that flew out of his cup, swirled around in the air for a second, and finally splashed down all over my Geography: The Story of the World and started to soak into the pages as fast as it could.
I won’t tell you the sound that Mr. Barber made. It was something like the shriek
an insane woman who has been locked in an attic for a great many years would make. (p. 344)

Jun 26, 2012
  • Yahong_Chi rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Here’s how you practice shrieking like an insane woman who has been locked in an attic for a great many years:
You stand in the middle of the field.
You look around to be sure that no one is going to hear you.
You breathe in a couple of times to get as much air in your chest as you can.
You stretch your neck up like the Great Esquimaux Curlew.
You imagine that it’s Game Seven of the World Series and it’s the bottom of the ninth and Joe Pepitone is rounding third base and the throw is coming in and the catcher has his glove up waiting for the ball and Joe Pepitone is probably going to be out and the game will be over and the Yankees will lose.
Then you let out your shriek, because that’s how everyone in Yankee Stadium
would be shrieking right then.
That’s how you practice shrieking like an insane woman who has been locked in
an attic for a great many years. And you keep doing it over and over again until all the birds in Marysville have flown away. (p. 303 - 304)

Jun 26, 2012
  • Yahong_Chi rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

She [Lil] smiled and opened up one of the books on New Zealand. You know how pretty someone can be when she opens up a book? (p. 276)

Jun 26, 2012
  • Yahong_Chi rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Mrs. Windermere nodded then turned quickly to her typewriter and began smacking at the keys. Her hands flew high. Petrels in the wind. (p. 250)

Jun 26, 2012
  • Yahong_Chi rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Mrs. Daugherty was keeping my bowl of cream of wheat hot, and she had a special treat with it, she said. It was bananas.
In the whole story of the world, bananas have never once been a special treat. (p. 249)

Jun 26, 2012
  • Yahong_Chi rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

It was cold, and I’m not lying. The sky was iron, and Mrs. Windermere’s coffee had worn off way before I got back into town, even before I passed the open meadow. (p. 202)


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Sep 20, 2012
  • ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 12


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Sep 20, 2012
  • ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

“You’re not always going to get everything you want, you know. That’s not what life is like.” It’s not like the librarian Mrs. Merriam needs to tell Doug that. If any kid is aware that life is not a bed of roses, it’s Doug. Stuck in a family with a dad that prefers talking with his fists to his mouth, a sweet but put upon mom, a brother in Vietnam, and another one at home making his little brother’s life a misery, it’s not like Doug’s ever had all that much that’s good in his life. When he and his family move to Marysville, New York (herein usually referred to as “stupid Marysville”) things start to change a little. Doug notices the amazing paintings of birds in an Audubon book on display in the public library. The boy is captivated by the birds, but soon it becomes clear that to raise money, the town has been selling off different pages in the book to collectors. Between wanting to preserve the book, learning to draw, solving some problems at school, the return of his brother from Vietnam, and maybe even falling in love, Doug’s life in “stupid” Marysville takes a turn. Whether it’s a turn for the better or a turn for the worse is up to him.


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