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Showing posts from September, 2011

"Okay for Now," by Gary D. Schmidt

Okay for Now, by Gary D. Schmidt, uses an obvious conceit—the Audubon birds Doug Swieteck, the protagonist, learns to draw reflect him, others in his life, and/or his surroundings. The obviousness of the metaphor, though, doesn’t detract from the story, rather it’s weaved into it rather brilliantly.
One way to describe the novel is as a tale of child abuse. Doug--and his brothers and mother—are physically and emotionally abused by Doug’s short-tempered, often-drunk father in ways most of us would find untenable. We never see the violence, but we know it’s happening and only once are we told outright of the consequences (when Doug was younger, his father forced the young boy to get a tattoo). This might make it easier for us (and kids – the intended audience) to read. Schmidt also sets the book in the 1960s, which may make the abuse more understandable. After all, we don’t want to think that parents still beat their kids.
The novel is also a story about finding where you belong. During t…