Every now and then an author writes a book and has a small character who shouts to come out and come alive in a book of his own. If you have read Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt then you may well remember Doug Swieteck and his brother, who remained nameless. Well, this is Doug's book. Now, I have to tell you that I didn't like Doug until about page 137. Doug comes from a family that lives in a house called "The Dump." His father has very quick hands and you have to learn as Doug and his brother have learned very well, what to say and what not to say so you can avoid those hands. As we meet the family, the father has lost his job because of his very short temper and bad attitude and they are headed to a town with a paper mill to start their newest version of their lives. Doug helps his mother set up the furniture and heads out to explore. He ends up at the library of all places and this is where the door to a future inches open in the form of a confident, wise girl named Lil Spicer and a librarian with the a huge heart and a sharp eye named Mr. Powell. In this library Doug is going to find Audobon's book of birds with all the glorious, varying illustrations. The book is missing a few pages that the town has sold off to help cover important debts and it becomes absolutely essential to Doug to find those pages and make that book whole...just as he needs to put himself together. Through the eyes of Lil and under the guidance of Mr. Powell, Doug finds a whole new page of himself...the part that can draw. He gets a job delivering wagonfuls of groceries to the townspeople one house and one family at a time. Gary Schmidt is a master of surprise as we learn one secret after another about Doug and why he does the things he does. We learn the same kinds of truths about Mrs. Merriam the librarian with the scowling face and Coach Reed, the P.E. teacher and Vietnam vet who loves to ridicule. This is a story of friendship, of growth, of dysfunctional families and pre-conceived ideas. It's a story of moments and chances taken and truth told. It's a story of fathers and sons and brothers and Vietnam and how if you keep trying to be your best self, you just might find out you have one.
368 pages : 978-0544022805 Ages 10-15
It’s not easy being the new kid in town.Doug Sweiteck is less than thrilled about moving to his new home in upstate New York, which he has nicknamed “the dump.”Moving to a new town does not mean, however, that Doug can escape his problems.From the moment he steps into his new school, the teachers and principal have already pegged him for a trouble maker due to the alleged criminal actions of his older brother, the same brother that stole Doug’s most prized possession, Joe Pepitone’s baseball cap.Despite his daily hardships, Doug manages to find solace with a new friend (who happens to be pretty and spunky), a game of baseball trivia, and his newly found artistic talent.In the process, he may even teach the adults around him a thing or two!Although some may remember Doug as a character from Schmidt’s previous novel, The Wednesday Wars, don’t worry if you aren’t already familiar with him.Okay For Now can easily be enjoyed as a solo read.
Recommended by Carrie Shaurette, Librarian
Beloved author Gary D. Schmidt expertly blends comedy and tragedy in the story of Doug Swieteck, an unhappy "teenage thug" first introduced in The Wednesday Wars, who finds consolation and a sense of possibility in friendship and art.
At once heartbreaking and hopeful, this absorbing novel centers on Doug, 14, who has an abusive father, a bully for a brother, a bad reputation, and shameful secrets to keep. Teachers and police and his relatives think he's worthless, and he believes them, holding others at arm's length. Newly arrived in town, he starts out on the same path—antagonizing other kids, mouthing off to teachers, contemptuous of everything intimidating or unfamiliar. Who would have thought that the public library would turn out to be a refuge and an inspiration, that a snooty librarian might be a friend, or that snarky redheaded Lil would like him—really like him? With more than his share of pain, including the return of his oldest brother from the Vietnam War, shattered and angry, will Doug find anything better than "okay for now"?---from the publisher