Reviews for Okay for Now
Booklist Reviews 2011 April #2
*Starred Review* In this stand-alone companion to The Wednesday Wars (2007), a Newbery Honor Book set in the late 1960s, Schmidt focuses on Holling Hoodhood's classmate Doug Swieteck, who is furious when his volatile father gets fired and moves the family to tiny Marysville, New York. Eighth grade gets off to a rocky start, particularly after Doug's brother is blamed for a series of local break-ins, and Doug, too, is viewed with suspicion. Life at home with his hard-drinking dad is rocky as well, especially after Doug's second brother returns from Vietnam without his legs. In addition to brief character references, this title shares much with The Wednesday Wars. Here, John James Audubon's portraits of birds, rather than Shakespeare's plays, provide a cultural awakening, and once again, Schmidt skillfully makes a reluctant boy's connection with the works a plausible and moving catalyst for strength and growth. Schmidt stretches credibility with another wish-fulfilling ending, but readers will likely forgive any plot contrivances as they enjoy Doug's distinctive, rhythmic narration, inventively peppered with "stats" about his life, which reveals hard, sometimes shocking truths about the time period and, most of all, Doug's family. Delivered in a wholly believable voice, Doug's euphemisms are heartbreaking and authentic, as when he describes his dad's violence: "He has quick hands." Reproductions of Audubon plates introduce each chapter in this stealthily powerful, unexpectedly affirming story of discovering and rescuing one's best self, despite family pressure to do otherwise. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
In this stand-alone story set in 1968, bad-boy Doug Swieteck (The Wednesday Wars) moves upstate with his family after his father's temper gets him fired. What "boring" Marysville, New York, offers Doug is something unexpected: kindness and a future. Captivated by a book of Audubon bird prints, he discovers a talent for art. Doug's story emerges through the character's distinctive voice. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #3
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[Mon Mar 10 08:43:30 2014] enhancedContent.pl: Wide character in print at E:\websites\aquabrowser\IMCPL\app\site\enhancedContent.pl line 249.
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." betty carter Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2011 March #1
It's 1968. The Vietnam War and Apollo 11 are in the background, and between a war in a distant land and a spacecraft heading to the moon, Doug Swieteck starts a new life in tiny Marysville, N.Y. He hates "stupid Marysville," so far from home and his beloved Yankee Stadium, and he may have moved away, but his cruel father and abusive brothers are still with him. Readers of the Newbery Honor–winningÃÂ The Wednesday WarsÃÂ (2007) will remember Doug, now less edgy and gradually more open to the possibilities of life in a small town. Each chapter opens with a print of a John James Audubon painting, and Mr. Powell, the town librarian, teaches Doug to paint and see the world as an artist. He meets pretty Lillian Spicer, just the feisty friend Doug needs, and a whole cast of small-town characters opens Doug to what he might be in the world. This is Schmidt's best novel yet—darker thanÃÂ The Wednesday WarsÃÂ and written with more restraint, but with the same expert attention to voice, character and big ideas. By the end of this tale, replete with allusions toÃÂ Our Town, Doug realizes he's pretty happy in Marysville, where holding hands with the green-eyed girl—and a first kiss—rival whatever might be happening on the moon.ÃÂ (Historical fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2011 August/September
It's the summer of 1968 and Doug Swieteck has just moved to Marysville, New York. His father is a mean drunk, his older brother seems to be a juvenile delinquent, and his mother is just trying to hold the family together. Before the summer ends, Doug has a friend (Lil), an obsession (the work of John James Audubon), and a job (delivering groceries). Over the course of the school year, Doug begins to change from a wary, closed boy into an open, engaged young man, despite the challenges he faces. He finds a teacher who understands him, begins to spend time in the local library drawing Audubon's birds, and, in the book's most unlikely twist, winds up on a Broadway stage. He witnesses his family's transformation with the return of his oldest brother from Vietnam. The book closes on a bittersweet note, with hope tempering a character's serious illness; but a really happy ending would have felt out of place. There are laugh-out-loud moments here, and passages that will move a reader to tea s; it's brilliant, and beautiful, and very nearly a perfect book. Susan A.M. Poulter, Cataloging Librarian, Nashville (Tennessee) Public Library. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ¬ 2011 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 February #3
This companion to The Wednesday Wars follows the formula of Schmidt's Newbery Honor winner with less success. Doug Swieteck, a prankster in the previous book, has graver problems than Holling Hoodhood did, making the interplay of pathos and slapstick humor an uneasy fit. In summer 1968, the Swietecks leave Long Island for the Catskills, where Doug's father has found work. Doug's mother (like Holling's) is kind but ineffectual; Mr. Swieteck is a brutish jerk. His abuse of his three sons, one of whom is currently in Vietnam, happens mostly offstage, but one episode of unthinkable cruelty is recounted as a flashback to explain why Doug refuses to take off his shirt in gym class. Doug does make two key friends: Lil, whose father owns the deli for which Doug becomes delivery boy, and the less fleshed-out Mr. Powell, a librarian who instantly sees Doug's potential as an artist. There are lovely moments, but the late addition of an implausible subplot in which Lil, who has never shown an interest in acting, is drafted for a role in a Broadway play, seems desultory considering the story's weightier elements. Ages 10-14. (Apr.) [Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2011 April
Gr 6-9--When his blowhard dad loses his job, Doug Swieteck has to say so long to his friend Holling and Camillo Junior High and get used to things in stupid Marysville, NY. His oldest brother's in Vietnam, his middle brother's still a hoodlum, his mom is quiet but enduring, and his only salvation is weekly visits to the public library, where the librarian is teaching him to draw by using models from a volume of Audubon's Birds of America. Also not too bad is Lil, the daughter of the grocer who gives him a delivery job. Fans of The Wednesday Wars (Clarion, 2007) will find that this companion novel has more in common with it than just a charismatic narrator and pitch-perfect details of daily life in the 1960s. In addition to a mix of caring adults and comically unreasonable authority figures, Schmidt also revisits baseball, theatrical escapades, and timely preoccupations like the Moon landing and the Vietnam War. But Doug's blue-collar story is much darker than Holling's in the earlier novel, and, as a narrator, he's more psychologically complex. Readers know right upfront that his father is abusive, but for a while Doug keeps the depth and magnitude--among other secrets--hidden from those around him. He grows to realize a lot about his family's relationships through study of Audubon's painted birds (one plate is featured at the start of each chapter), and the volume itself becomes a metaphor for his journey from fragmented to whole self. Schmidt manages a hard balance of relatable youth-is-hard humor and nuanced family trauma, though the mix of antics and realism is a bit Shakespearean. Readers will miss Doug and his world when they're done, and will feel richer for having experienced his engaging, tough, and endearing story.--Riva Pollard, Prospect Sierra Middle School, El Cerrito, CA [Page 184]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
VOYA Reviews 2011 June
When Doug Swieteck's abusive father loses his job, the family moves to a small town in upstate New York. Doug's fascination with a display of Audubon's work in the town library leads him to become friends with Lil, the daughter of the local store owner who offers him a job delivering groceries on Saturdays, and Mr. Powell, the librarian who gives him drawing lessons using Audubon's prints. Doug navigates his new home, his older brother being accused of stealing, trouble with the so-called gym teacher, his oldest brother returning from Vietnam blinded and without legs, and his father's mood swings with the empathy he learns as he copies Audubon's work This stand-alone companion to The Wednesday Wars (Clarion, 2007/VOYA June 2007) begins each chapter with an Audubon print that figures into the story in some way. As Mr. Powell teaches Doug drawing techniques, Doug--and the reader--learns a great deal about art and composition, and Doug begins to empathize with others because of his feelings for the birds in the pictures. The book is exceptionally well written. Schmidt creates characters that will remain with the reader long after the book is done. Doug's voice is unforgettable as he tries to help and protect his mom. It is heartbreaking watching him plant flowers that his brother destroys or discovering the fact he cannot read. While there is much stacked against him, he is a character filled with hope that the reader cannot help but root for. Push this one on readers; they will not be sorry.--Cindy Faughnan 5Q 4P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.