Okay for Now

Okay for Now

eBook - 2011
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As a fourteen-year-old who just moved to a new town, with no friends and a louse for an older brother, Doug Swieteck has all the stats stacked against him. So begins a coming-of-age masterwork full of equal parts comedy and tragedy from Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt. As Doug struggles to be more than the "skinny thug" that his teachers and the police think him to be, he finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer—a fiery young lady who "smelled like daisies would smell if they were growing in a big field under a clearing sky after a rain." In Lil, Doug finds the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a whole town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Together, they find a safe haven in the local library, inspiration in learning about the plates of John James Audubon's birds, and a hilarious adventure on a Broadway stage. In this stunning novel, Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming...
Publisher: 2011
Branch Call Number: Overdrive
Reproduction: Electronic reproduction. Boston : Clarion Books, 2011. Requires Adobe Digital Editions (file size: 853 KB) or Amazon Kindle (file size: N/A KB) or OverDrive Read (file size: N/A KB)
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc
ISBN: 9780547534176


From Library Staff

If you read The Wednesday Wars, you'll recognize the main character of this book, Doug Swietek. His problems abound: an abusive dad, a big brother away at war, and a big secret he's afraid to reveal. But there is art, there are books, and there are people to help. I love this story about a kid wh... Read More »

Eighth grader Doug Swieteck moves to upstate New York and learns to deal with family tragedy through art. Doug finds solitude at the public library, an unexpected ally and friend, and a job to put him back on his feet. Recommended by Katie F.

From the critics

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Apr 09, 2021

This was a real page turner, showing the life of a troubled 8th grader. I recommend reading "The Wednesday Wars" before this.
A kind of long book, 360 pages of coming-of-age.

Mar 31, 2021

Eighth-grader Doug Swietek moves to a small town in New York called Marysville. While taking him far away from his home, the new place does nothing to relieve him of his abusive father and remorseless brother. He soon meets residents of the town he names the “dump” and befriends them. At the local library, a librarian named Mr. Powell tutors him in art. As Doug adjusts to a life in a place he deems horrible, he finds comfort and familiarity with the works of James Audubon. And when his older brother returns home as a victim of war, he must help him find his sense of purpose and motivation. In this story, Doug must overcome the obstacles he faces on his way to accepting his new life and becoming part of a community that has unfair misconceptions of him.

This book reminds me of the J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series because the people around both Harry and Doug like or avoid the characters based on the circumstances surrounding them at a given moment. Gary Schmidt does an amazing job with providing Doug’s emotions and thoughts helping readers understand what he feels. The townspeople around him also play a significant role in Doug’s journey, instead of remaining cardboard characters. Through the art in the novel, Schimdt compares what Doug often feels without directly stating it. “This bird was falling and there wasn't a single thing in the world that cared at all.” I recommend this story to young adults who are looking for books that are heart-touching and impossible to put down.

Jan 28, 2021

I have read this book 5 times, Its awesome

Jun 14, 2020

I don't know why, but I'm always hesitant to read Shmidt's books, which is silly, because I always end up loving them. You must read this book. I cried and cried and cried at the end. It is also hilarious. BTW, Pay Attention Carter Jones is kind of a sequel to this book. It's not about Doug, but you find out what happens to him and Lil in it.

May 12, 2016

5 stars. 5 STARSSS!!!

Mar 04, 2016

Amazing story! Didn't think it would be that intresting, but it was!

Apr 04, 2015

Truly amazing book. It taught me a lot. I have read a lot of books where characters are returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but never Vietnam. This book is set in the late '60s, maybe early '70s. Explores many deep topics and yet still manages to keep it real. A rather amazing look inside Doug's life, this book also outlines the hope there is for veterans, and just the bare minimum of the problems veterans face today, and in the past. It gives hope for people returning from "over there", while still portraying the struggle it was to find a job, and how civilians treated veterans back then, judging without actually being there. Anyhow, one of the best books I have read, and certainly one of the deepest...

litriocht Jun 17, 2014

Marysville's denizens include traumatized Vietnam veterans, Doug Swieteck's troubled family, and several authority figures who have preconceived notions about what a hoodlum Doug must be. While Doug is very concerned with not seeming like a "chump" in his hard-knock life, his sensitivity begins to show as the plot progresses.

The accelerated personal growth of characters nudge the book's style away from strict realism and toward a more exaggerated form of realistic historical fiction. This feature of the novel is ultimately a strength, though, as it allows for satisfying resolutions that ring true even as they stretch credibility. This is, simply put, a lovely read.

JCLElaineB Jun 16, 2014

Good book! Had some serious moments and some humorous moments. Learned a little about how art is made too. I was a teenager about the same time as the setting of this book so was able to relate to a lot of what was going on in the world at the time.

Dec 13, 2013

best book :D

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Jun 26, 2012

You know one thing that Mr. Powell taught me? He taught me that sometimes, art can make you forget everything else all around you. That’s what art can do. And I guess that’s what happened to Mr. Barber, who forgot that his left foot was behind the back leg of my chair. Who took a step without remembering to take his foot away from the back of my chair. Who tripped, but caught himself. But who couldn’t the coffee that flew out of his cup, swirled around in the air for a second, and finally splashed down all over my Geography: The Story of the World and started to soak into the pages as fast as it could.
I won’t tell you the sound that Mr. Barber made. It was something like the shriek
an insane woman who has been locked in an attic for a great many years would make. (p. 344)

Jun 26, 2012

Here’s how you practice shrieking like an insane woman who has been locked in an attic for a great many years:
You stand in the middle of the field.
You look around to be sure that no one is going to hear you.
You breathe in a couple of times to get as much air in your chest as you can.
You stretch your neck up like the Great Esquimaux Curlew.
You imagine that it’s Game Seven of the World Series and it’s the bottom of the ninth and Joe Pepitone is rounding third base and the throw is coming in and the catcher has his glove up waiting for the ball and Joe Pepitone is probably going to be out and the game will be over and the Yankees will lose.
Then you let out your shriek, because that’s how everyone in Yankee Stadium
would be shrieking right then.
That’s how you practice shrieking like an insane woman who has been locked in
an attic for a great many years. And you keep doing it over and over again until all the birds in Marysville have flown away. (p. 303 - 304)

Jun 26, 2012

She [Lil] smiled and opened up one of the books on New Zealand. You know how pretty someone can be when she opens up a book? (p. 276)

Jun 26, 2012

Mrs. Windermere nodded then turned quickly to her typewriter and began smacking at the keys. Her hands flew high. Petrels in the wind. (p. 250)

Jun 26, 2012

Mrs. Daugherty was keeping my bowl of cream of wheat hot, and she had a special treat with it, she said. It was bananas.
In the whole story of the world, bananas have never once been a special treat. (p. 249)

Jun 26, 2012

It was cold, and I’m not lying. The sky was iron, and Mrs. Windermere’s coffee had worn off way before I got back into town, even before I passed the open meadow. (p. 202)


Add Age Suitability
Nov 20, 2019

blue_tiger_6805 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Feb 12, 2018

gjrainey thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Apr 04, 2015

SeanTo thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over


ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 12


Add a Summary

“You’re not always going to get everything you want, you know. That’s not what life is like.” It’s not like the librarian Mrs. Merriam needs to tell Doug that. If any kid is aware that life is not a bed of roses, it’s Doug. Stuck in a family with a dad that prefers talking with his fists to his mouth, a sweet but put upon mom, a brother in Vietnam, and another one at home making his little brother’s life a misery, it’s not like Doug’s ever had all that much that’s good in his life. When he and his family move to Marysville, New York (herein usually referred to as “stupid Marysville”) things start to change a little. Doug notices the amazing paintings of birds in an Audubon book on display in the public library. The boy is captivated by the birds, but soon it becomes clear that to raise money, the town has been selling off different pages in the book to collectors. Between wanting to preserve the book, learning to draw, solving some problems at school, the return of his brother from Vietnam, and maybe even falling in love, Doug’s life in “stupid” Marysville takes a turn. Whether it’s a turn for the better or a turn for the worse is up to him.


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