“She came over and looked at the picture. Then she took my hand. You know what that feels like? Like what the astronauts will feel when they step onto the moon for the very first time. Like what might happen if Coach Reed rang the doorbell at The Dump some afternoon and sat down next to Lucas. Like knowing that Principal Peattie is wrong about what he said. Like laying a missing bird picture back where it’s supposed to be. Like someone seeing what a chump you are and getting you a cold Coke anyway. Like Possibility.”
– Okay for Now, Gary D. Schmidt
Here’s another book to add to your young adult lit library: Gary D. Schmidt’s Okay for Now.
I first read about this book on Amazon, and not knowing a thing about its premise, I immediately got myself a copy because the title seemed engaging in itself. Plus, I got the sense that the book was to be told by some sarcastic, know-it-all kid (which I like), and well, sarcastic, know-it-all kid was what I got.
The story is narrated by eighth grader, Douglas Swieteck, who comes off as an I-don’t-give-a-shit typical kind of teen (and we later on come to know that this is just a veneer, if you will, lacing Doug’s deepest secrets). Doug leads a troubled life–after all, he is constantly bullied by his brothers and his father; he constantly struggles with a reading disorder; and he keeps a secret that holds him back from his teachers and peers.
The plot kicks off when Doug and his family move to “stupid” Marysville, New York, where he comes across multiple personalities who he associates with Audubon’s book on birds (which he stumbles upon on a trip to a local library–it was love at first sight). Throughout Okay for Now, the reader is taken through Doug’s shift from a world filled with hate, self doubt, and pessimism into one with acceptance, forgiveness, and love. Mr Schmidt successfully connects such themes to the birds–what is projected as a rough start ends with a glimpse of hope, as is the case with both the birds, and Doug and company.
The book also contains numerous references to art and literature (it is mainly anchored on Audubon’s book though), and how Doug fosters a deep appreciation for each when they run in parallel with his life. Okay for Now is all in all an intricately written tale that leaves the reader to explore his imagination and challenges him to go beyond those which are seemingly manifest only to the eyes. It’s very graphic and engaging; I felt like I was a part of Doug’s growth every step of the way.
I loved the ending most especially, how it was so tragic and heartbreaking, but excellent nonetheless as it presented a very raw and poignant view on the beauty of life–one minute it’s total crap, the next it promises endless possibilities. And do you know what possibilities entail? Do you?
I now officially love that word: possibility!!! :)
(On a side note, since I enjoyed this book so much, I must now get my hands on Mr Schmidt’s other book, The Wednesday Wars, which is said to be prequel to this book.)
Book cover was grabbed from the Internet.