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Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

Okay for Now (2011)

by Gary D. Schmidt

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This book is a great story for students to relate to or reflect on. Shows the life of a young boy who grows up in a less than desirable environment and family. ( )
  TarynNicole | May 10, 2017 |
Wow what an excellent understated book. I enjoyed the Wednesday Wars, but this one really got to me. ( )
  searscho | Jan 5, 2017 |
Listen to the elements of this middle school novel:
John James Audubon’s Birds of America, an emotionally abusive father, a Vietnam veteran brother, the classic novel Jane Eyre, the New York Yankees, an eccentric playwright, a business executive who is both an expert at horseshoes as he is at cultivating orchids. Gary Schmidt has woven a story full of heartache and hope.

Doug Swieteck, has moved to Marysville in upstate New York, to a place he refers to as "The Dump."He shares a tiny room with his also abusive brother. Doug is the new kid on the block in a school where the kids have known each other since kindergarten. With the help of multiple friends and teachers, Doug is able to navigate the difficulties associated with 8th grade, and the increased tension at home. Doug discovers the public library and meets Mr. Powell who helps him with his newly developed artistic talent studying Audubon prints. After getting a job delivering grocers for Mr. Splicers deli, he develops a sweet relationship with Lil Spicer, his daughter.

This is a story about the rebuilding of a family, the strength of a young man, and the beauty of a friendship.

Reading this book and hearing the birds described gave me a greater appreciation for the art of John James Audubon. ( )
  jothebookgirl | Jan 3, 2017 |
Doug Swieteck is doing just fine until his father loses his job and decides to move them to Marysville, New York. Stupid Marysville is a small town where Doug knows no one, and everyone expects him to be a troublemaker. But then he meets Lil Spicer, and her dad gives him a job. Can he make his own way here, or is he doomed by his father and his brothers' shadows?

Readers of The Wednesday Wars may remember Doug as the prankster Holling Hoodhood knew - but if you haven't read the first book, there's no need before diving into this one. Doug is a great character, the youngest of three boys and wanting to be his own person in the midst of a troubled home. His oldest brother Lucas is away at Vietnam, his brother Chris is a troublemaker and Doug just knows everyone judges him by his brothers' actions. His growth as a character was really fun to follow, and my only complaint was that a few items seemed just a little too neatly tied up - but it is a middle school novel, after all. ( )
  bell7 | Jan 3, 2017 |
Doug, a 14 year old boy, moves to a new town and has little support. Set in the post Vietnam era, he struggles with identity and family issues and finds recovery in an unexpected place.
  Jennifer LeGault | Nov 2, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 107 (next | show all)
Bad-boy Doug Swieteck from The Wednesday Wars (rev. 7/07)—grudgingly respected for his bravado (he knew 410 ways to get a teacher to hate you) but feared because of his bullying older brother—is back in a stand-alone story. Readers meet Doug’s mean-spirited father, a man Doug dislikes but unconsciously emulates. When the family moves upstate after Mr. Swieteck’s temper gets him fired, Doug’s discontent mirrors his father’s. They live in a “stupid” town, in a house Doug christens “The Dump,” and people sit on stoops because there isn’t “any boring thing else to do in boring Marysville.” But what “boring” Marysville, New York, offers Doug is something unexpected: kindness and a future. He gets a part-time job; meets Lil, a sweet love interest; has teachers willing to teach him (as Schmidt gradually reveals, his need is dire); and, above all, is captivated by a book of Audubon bird prints when a caring librarian helps Doug discover a talent for composition and art appreciation. Schmidt incorporates a myriad of historical events from the 1968 setting (the moon landing, a broken brother returning from Vietnam, the My Lai massacre) that make some of the improbable plot turns (the father’s sudden redemption, for example) all the more unconvincing. Still, Doug’s story emerges through a distinctive voice that reflects how one beat-up kid can become a young man who knows that the future holds “so much for him to find.”
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Joe Pepitone once gave me his New York Yankees baseball cap.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0547152604, Hardcover)

Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Author Gary D. Schmidt

Q: Did you always want to become a writer?

A: Nope. In high school, I wanted to go to the Naval Academy at Annapolis and become a career naval officer. Then, late in high school, I wanted to be a vet—mostly because of the James Herriot books and the PBS show, I suppose. Then, in college, I decided to become a lawyer—until my senior year, when I switched to an English major to become a teacher, which I did become. Somehow becoming a writer happened along the way.

Q: What did you read when you were a kid?

A: In my school, we were tracked—meaning that we were put into classes depending on how well we had done in testing. This happened in first grade. I had tested poorly and ended up in the pumpkin group—no kidding. We were the poorest readers, and so since I was told I wasn’t any good at this, I didn’t read much. Then I got taken up by Miss Kabakoff, who just liked me, and who brought me into her class and taught me how to read.

Once that happened, I read everything I could. The Freddy the Pig books, the Doctor Dolittle books, any Greek mythology I could get my hands on, and the Norse mythology that I liked better, the biographies in the Childhood of Famous Americans series, the tales of the Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Andersen, the Herbert series and the Henry Reed series, Robinson Crusoe and The Swiss Family Robinson, Howard Pyle’s The Adventures of Robin Hood and His Merry Men, Bambi (which is a lot better than most people think it is), anything by Jack London or Jules Verne or H. G. Wells, the Horatio Hornblower books, Treasure Island, and of course the Hardy Boys series and the Tom Swift series, which I collected whenever I could.

Q: How often do you write?

A: Every day I am not teaching—so two or three days a week, and sometimes at night—unless it’s really cold out and the woodstove needs a lot of tending.

Q: How much do you write each day?

A: I work on three projects at a time, and they are all at different stages. One may be a first draft, one may be almost finished, and one might be in proofs—or perhaps just being conceived. I try to write about five hundred words a day on each project. Most American writers—Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Jack London—all wrote about five hundred words a day. It seems the right pace for me. It keeps me from going too fast at a project.

There are some children’s book writers—like Enid Blyton—who supposedly wrote ten thousand words a day. This seems impossible to me, but even if it is true, one should not judge oneself by the absurd outlier.

Q:Where do you write?

A: I have a study in a small outbuilding away from the house. It has a desk, a lamp, more books than should be in any one room, and a woodstove. I work at a typewriter, and keep lots of scrap paper around me. This means, by the way, that if anything comes out pretty awful, I can just open the woodstove and burn it all. The feeling of relief is remarkable.

On my desk are a dictionary and a thesaurus, books by Emerson and Whittier and Longfellow and Darwin, Henry David Thoreau’s journals, a collection of Churchill’s war speeches, two volumes of Shaker hymns, some Tolkien, some Avi, some Katherine Paterson, some Elie Wiesel, The Giver, and a statue of a greyhound that has been in my family for four generations.

Q:You work at a typewriter?

A: You can’t believe how hard it is to find typewriter ribbons for a 1953 Royal.

Q: Your books often are very serious. Shouldn’t you lighten up?

A: You think life in middle school isn’t serious? Are you kidding?

Living is a serious business. Funny is good, of course. We all like to laugh. But I want more than that. Much more. Nathaniel Hawthorne, in his first great book, called life "a veil of gloom and brightness." We all wish it could be brightness all the time. And maybe for some people it is. I doubt it, but maybe. But there is gloom for us all, too. And maybe books even for kids shouldn’t ignore that. Geez, read Where the Wild Things Are, or Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, or just about any Grimm folktale, or Crow Boy, or Bridge to Terabithia, or Nothing but the Truth, or No, David, or Octavian Nothing, or The Tale of Despereaux, or Stitches, or The Storm in the Barn, and then try to tell me that writers for kids should try not to be too serious.

Q: What is your favorite book that you have written?

A: Hmmm... If I give one title, then all the other books get sort of cranky and jealous, and they start to rearrange themselves loudly at night to push each other off the shelves. Then I have to pick them all up in the morning instead of walking the dogs and then the dogs get irritated and they take their sweet time on the walk so I get back home late and miss most of breakfast and the kids get to school after the bell has rung and the day just goes downhill from there.

Let’s just say they’re all my favorites.

Q:What is your favorite book that you have not written?

A: An easy question. It is The Little World of Don Camillo. There is no other book like it, so sweet, so funny, so moving, sometimes suspenseful. I wish I had written it.

Q:What book are you working on now?

A: Sorry. Writers should never talk about what they’re working on next. It will be done when it’s done, and then I’ll be glad to talk about it. But not now.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:27 -0400)

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While Doug struggles to be more than the thug that his teachers and the police think him to be, he finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer, as they explore Audubon's art.

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