Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt (2010) is an intriguing novel. This is coming from someone who doesn't generally read novels.
However, I decided to relax my mind from reading another academic work in favor of a novel. This is much needed if you reach a point of dreaming that you are stealing a couple history books from a store. History Books! Then again, my history professor would remark that if you want to be a historian you gatta sleep and eat history.
I read the entire novel today, which was rather surprising on my part. I usually don't complete most novels I start reading. I won't go though all the basic features of a book review, many of those are online.
Setting: "Stupid Marysville" NY, USA. 1968-69
Schmidt was able to craft up quite a piece in his novel. He infused many themes that led me from smiling to sadden then smiling again. Thus, the title Okay for NOW. Life has many challenges and no one knows this better that fourteen year old Douglas. His life is filled with ups and downs. The book ties in such themes as:
Dysfunctional family: His father is easily irritated, abusive and yet with a strong zeal to be the bread winner. Doug endures a lot of emotional abuse from his father. The one time he decides to challenge his dad, he realizes with his brother advice, that it isn't worth it because his mom ends up crying all night.
Self Esteem: Doug suffers from the fact that no one really appreciates him for the most part. His own dad went out to put a tattoo "Mommy's Baby" on his back as birthday gift. Could you imagine?
War: Doug's brother returns from the Vietnam war traumatized both physically and emotionally but he recovers, gradually.
Humanity: Doug's begins to develop a strong desire to be considerate of others. He strives to restore pages from The Birds of America
Mentoring: A few inspiring words from a person especially a teacher can make a person life and dreams worth living. I agree.
Library: This probably adds to my academic interest, there are many scenes that takes place in the library which is where Doug develops his artistic skills and romances with young Lil.
Humor: There are many little instances of humor.
Romance: It's young romance - starting out as the typical I don't like you type of conversations to powerful lessons in love with Doug saying to Lil that he'll always be by her side at the endding lines. (It appears as though Lil had cancer in the end.)
Art: Each chapter begins with an image from John James Audubon which keep me in Belize as I wonder if this was linked with the Audubon Society here. However, it also became quite tedious to hear about art work - composition, stability, dimensions etc. etc.
Those with an additional interest in birds, art, and baseball would really really enjoy this book. But, if you aren't, it is still a good read. A nice read.
Three favorite lines:
"Why can't poet's say what they want to say and then shut up?" (I do like some poetry by the way.)
"When things start to go pretty good, something usually happens to turn everything bad..."
"Things will work out... Things always do"
This book reminded of the thrill of reading novels and why I'll try to do so every now again :)
If you'd like to read this novel feel free to send me an email.
Life can be bitter but it's also soo sweet.