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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Okay for Now

My friend and I snatched up copies of Gary D. Schmidt’s most recent novel, Okay for Now, while attending the Texas Library Association’s annual conference. We both love his other books – Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, Trouble, and The Wednesday Wars. She read it first and shared that it was the best book she had read this year. I whole-heartedly agree. Although this is a companion book to The Wednesday Wars, readers do not have to read The Wednesday Wars first. It is 1968. Fourteen-year-old Doug Swieteck and his family move to a new place when his father is fired from his job. Doug has two older brothers – one is fighting in the Vietnam War and the other is constantly getting into trouble. Although Doug has a caring mother, his father’s abusive nature has tore Doug apart. As a result of his fractured home life, Doug hates everything. His negative attitude and his older brother’s reputation make many of the staff at his new school and people in the town pass judgments about him before giving him a chance. Things change as Doug develops an interest in the artwork in John James Audubon’s book, Birds of America, at the public library. Through his newfound interest in art and growing friendship with a girl named Lil Spicer, Doug discovers that his actions can make things whole once again. Even though this book was written with young adults in mind, it is a must read for all educators – we have the power to build or shatter fragile souls on a daily basis. As Doug Swieteck would say, “There aren’t too many things around that are whole, you know…When you find something that’s whole, you do what you can to keep it that way. And when you find something that isn’t, then maybe it’s not a bad idea to try to make it whole again. Maybe.” Click on the video below to hear from Gary D. Schmidt.

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