Midwesterner Gary D. Schmidt won Newbery Honor awards for Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boys and The Wednesday Wars, two coming-of-age novels about unlikely friends finding a bond. Okay For Now, his latest novel, explores another seemingly improbable alliance, this one between new outsider in town Doug Swieteck and Lil Spicer, the savvy spitfire daughter of his deli owner boss. With her challenging assistance, Doug discovers new sides of himself. Along the way, he also readjusts his relationship with his abusive father, his school peers, and his older brother, a newly returned war victim of Vietnam.
I hadn’t heard anything about Gary D. Schmidt’s Okay for Now until my book club picked it up. When I finally got around to reading it (i.e. after the meeting where we actually discussed it), I was surprise by how endearing Doug Sweiteck’s character is and how quickly the story reads. I had a few qualms with Schmidt’s novel, but Doug is a narrator who stays close to my heart.
Why is Doug Sweiteck so awesome? Because Schmidt’s strength is characterization, clearly. Doug had a sensitive, emotional side, but he also cracked me up. Seriously, his complaints about having to read Jane Eyre are hilarious. Plus, Lil Spicer is another awesome character.
The plot of his novel was enjoyable overall, but I wasn’t such a big fan by the end. Schmidt incorporates a lot of major themes in this novel: baseball, Vietnam, first love, etc. Yes, he tied his plot up really nicely. However, there were so many big themes coming across that it was easy to get lost in the midst of them and for Doug’s tale to come off as a tad melodramatic at times.
Okay For Now is a worthwhile read. Every time I think about this book, the first thing that comes to mind is how much I loved Doug. If you seek an emotional but humorous read told from a male perspective, look no further.
Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.