Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt

The last book I read over the holiday break was an e-galley of Gary Schmidt’s OKAY FOR NOW, a fantastic and (is it possible?) even stronger follow-up to THE WEDNESDAY WARS. It’s a companion book, rather than a sequel, since this one is told through the eyes of Holling Hoodhood’s classmate, 14-year-old Doug Swieteck as his family moves to a stupid new town where he has no friends and where everyone seems intent on judging him based on the reputation of his scofflaw older brother. The voice in this book is laugh-out-loud funny, pitch-perfect teen boy, and rings true in all the best ways. I love-love-love the characters that populate these pages, from Doug himself to the stern librarian who begrudingly lets him in every Saturday to ogle the Audobon prints upstairs, to the scary old writer-lady on the delivery route he runs for the local store. (I love that she calls him only "Skinny Delivery Boy" even after they strike up what constitutes an honest-to-goodness friendship.)

Like the WEDNESDAY WARS, the humor in this book makes the poignant scenes even more powerful, and there’s no shortage of them when Doug’s older brother returns from Vietnam seriously hurt and facing all the community attitudes that met returning veterans in that era. OKAY FOR NOW made me laugh and cry, sometimes on the very same page, a sure way for a book to win my heart.  Due out in April from Clarion.

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