By Gary D. Schmidt
Three Things I Liked About Okay For Now:
1. Jane Eyre, the play
It’s been a while since I’ve posted, huh? Oops. Excuse: I’m a month into my sophomore year, and it’s been one hectic month. Settling in, scrambling to polish a couple of essays for contests, catching up on homework, starting a new job… It pains me to admit it, but reading and reviewing kind of fell through the cracks. To ease myself back into it, I’ve been reading “easy” books – young adult, and light adult reads. Which is not to say they haven’t been good reads, too! Easy ≠ not good. Remember that.
Things are a little rough for Doug Swieteck. He’s just moved to a new town, he’s got a chip on his shoulder from his abusive father and it’s giving his teachers and classmates the wrong impression, and his eldest brother is coming home from Vietnam. But there’s also Lil Spicer, the spunky daughter of the grocer who hires Doug to make his deliveries, and the library’s copy of Audubon’s Birds of America paintings, which capture his fascination and make his hand twitch with the movements of a phantom pencil, to make him think that even if things aren’t great, they might be okay. For now.
Doug Swieteck is basically Holden Caulfield as a preteen. He’s got the sarcasm, the disillusionment, the catchphrases – “I’m not lying.” He and the other characters are all richly developed; not even the minor characters are three-dimensional and multi-layered. And Doug’s growth throughout the novel is undeniably heartwarming.
There is just too much in this novel, too many conflicts. Spoiler alert: Doug has an abusive father, a bully-in-training as a brother, his eldest brother lost his legs and his sight in Vietnam, he’s ILLITERATE, and then in the LAST CHAPTER, his best friend/girlfriend Lil Spicer gets some kind of potentially deadly never-specified illness (not to mention all the minor things, like having his prized possession, a baseball cap given to him by a famous player, thrown in a gutter by his brother) Like, seriously? That is too much. I mean, I’m sure there are people out there whose lives suck as much as Doug’s or worse, but the paradox of fiction is that it actually has to be more believable than reality. And I just wasn’t buying the freaking deluge of problems plaguing poor Doug.
Books Read This Year: 70
Top 100 Progress: 46/100