I’m absolutely in love with Okay For Now by Gary D. Scmidt. Whether it’s the endearing characters -in particular Doug Swieteck who worships Joe Pepitone and is concerned about being a chump, the multiple themes that all built on each other, the late 1960s setting in MY state or Scmidt’s capture of the essence of growing up. Frankly, it’s love. My feelings for Okay For Now, that is.
Okay For Now is a companion novel to The Wednesday Wars. After running his mouth to the boss, Doug Swieteck’s father loses his Long Island job and uproots the family to stupid Marysville upstate. Doug is NOT thrilled. He doesn’t exactly have the best home life. Dad is verbally and physically abusive. His brother Christopher is a ‘dangerous criminal mind’, in that he has a reputation as a trouble maker. Doug’s other brother Lucas is in Vietnam.
Schmidt flawlessly weaves larger themes of family loyalty, hero worship and the redemptive power of art. I know of a friend who I won’t name because it was a private message who mentioned she had trouble with with multiple themes, which is fine, but I honestly liked it. Personally, I feel the lives we live don’t hinge on a single theme, but on multiple parts and I thought the various aspects of Okay For Now all had a purpose. Nothing is there for the sake of being there, rather it is all purposeful and interconnected.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the characterization. At first Gary D. Schmidt writes the characters in a way that I was like ‘this guy is a total chump” but THEN the characters redeem themselves and I saw my earlier rage was wrong. I love when this happens. When characters MAKE FEEL ALL OF THE THINGS. Seriously, Schmidt’s characters are startlingly human – imperfections and all.
I listened to the audiobook of Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt narrated by Lincoln Hoppe. It is 9 hours and 16 minutes unabridged and is produced by Listening Library. I went to college with downstaters and so, with authority can say that Hoppe nails the accent perfectly. He doesn’t do any falsetto crap while reading – but sounds like someone looking back and remembering. As a narrator, Lincoln Hoppe infused the story and words with vocal emotion. Friends, I’ve found another narrator to add to my MUST LISTEN MORE list. I mean, if I actually had one.
Disclosure: I borrowed this audiobook from my local library.