Monday, December 1, 2014

Audio Book Review: "Okay for Now" by Gary D. Schmidt

Doug Swieteck is trying to find his way.  His family is a mess - his father is an abusive drunk, his older brother is a bully and his oldest brother is over fighting in the Vietnam War.  The only saving grace is his mother.  The family has just moved to a tiny town upstate, and things get off to a poor start, of course.  Doug is instantly characterized as a "thug" and his brother being accused of theft doesn't help...  but Doug does the best he can with the help of his only friend, one of the town librarian and John James Audubon's Birds of America.

This is such a surprisingly good story!  I was immediately drawn to Doug.  He just seemed like a good kid in a bad situation who just needed to catch a break.  I guess I didn't see from the beginning that Doug would find the strength and power to create his own breaks.  I really enjoyed seeing the different ways in which he interacted with people, and the realistic ways in which his overall emotional state affected his actions.  There are some very lighthearted and funny moments balanced by some incredibly intense and dark moments that had me close to tears.

The audio is fantastic.  The narrator, Lincoln Hoppe, is easy to listen to and adds wonderful emotion to his performance.  I truly believed he was Doug Swieteck, and was completely shaken when he started to read the end credits.

This is an upcoming book for my younger-teens book group at the library, and as that group is mostly boys - I am looking forward to their reactions.  I would also recommend this to someone interested in historical fiction from the 60s/Vietnam War because the second half of the book deals with the older brother's return which could be a book in itself.  This book also has strong themes of friendship, of the relationships (good and bad) between adults of authority (teachers, police, parents) and teens.

Okay For Now
by Gary D. Schmidt
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011
Audio by Listening Library, 2011
360 pages; 9 1/2 hours
Source:  Library


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