I have to admit that I was predisposed to like this book. Gary Schmidt is a professor at Calvin College here in Michigan, and I've heard him speak and met him in person. But read Okay for Now and see if you don't agree with me.
Middle-schooler Doug Swieteck (a character first introduced in Wednesday Wars) just moved to a new town and things aren't looking so great. His family situation isn't so good, he's already been labeled trouble by adults, and he's following in the footsteps of his jerk older brother. But then he's introduced to Audubon's bird paintings, and an artist is born. How art helps him to become the person he's meant to be is as beautiful as one of Audubon's birds (the artic tern, not the puffin).
Doug tells his own story, and Schmidt's use of voice is masterful. I believed every word Doug said, and I got tears in my eyes more than once (though Doug might call me a chump for that). The late '60s setting lives and breathes. I wanted to applaud the adults who stepped in and helped Doug along, and I wanted to give his friend Lil a big hug. This is a coming-of-age story in the truest sense of the word, and I feel privileged to have grown a little with Doug and his friends and family.
Read this book. I promise you won't regret it.
* Copy provided for review by NetGalley. It will be published in April.