I believe I may have just finished the most compelling young adult realistic fiction novel I’ve ever read. After reading Trouble, I became a huge fan of Gary D. Schmidt. Okay for Now, and extension of The Wednesday Wars, finds Doug moving away from Holling Hoodhood after his father loses his job. The entire family moves to Marysville, New York, where his father’s friend, Ernie Eco, sets him up with a job in a paper factory. All Doug wants is for his family to become whole again. His brother, Lucas, is constantly harassing and abusing him, his mother has enough trouble keeping the family together, his father abuses him, his teachers question his intelligence, and the one bright spot in his universe – Lil, the girl he develops a huge crush for – sends him mixed signals. To compound matters, his oldest brother returns from Vietnam missing both legs. Doug’s life has very little to celebrate. However, through is triumphs and tragedies, he learns to rely on people and help them become whole again.
Beautifully written and full of riveting conflict, you can’t help but love Doug. He’s looking for his place in the world when the world doesn’t exactly seem interested, so he learns to make his own opportunities. Through the help of some pretty fantastic adults, he’s able to overcome many of his dilemmas, something that could find its way into more young adult literature, where adults, for a very valid reason, tend to find their way out of stories. It’s good to see an author allow adults to remain and young adult protagonists find their way.