Wednesday, September 21, 2011

October Book Pick - Okay For Now

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 with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival. 


Lauri said...

This book was hard for me to get in to. It was not an easy read but was worth the effort of keeping with it.

Some of the characters I liked (Lil, Mr Powell)others I didn't care about (the Dad and his friend) and some like Principal Peattie I disliked. I could hardly read anything the Principle said because an adult should never refer to himself as "Principle Peattie thinks..."

I liked that as Doug changed his attitude about his surroundings and the people he interacted with he felt the people seemed to change too. We change ourselves, we change the world.

Favorite quotes:
"I couldn't help myself from smiling. I couldn't. Maybe this happens to you every day, but I think it was the first time I could hardly wait to show something that I done to someone who would care besides my mother. You know how that feels?" p77
"You know when someone has been crying, something gets left in the air. It's not something you can see, or smell or feel. Or draw. But it's there." p.138
"Polly had this book about a house in a forest where Laura lives with Ma and Pa and her sisters. You'd be surprised how good this was, especially considering that nothing happens." p.284

Candy said...

I LOVED this book. Even though it jumped the shark several dozen times. (Not to spoil it for everyone, let's just say some characters transformations were more believable than others, for example.) Still, I loved it, loved the main character, loved the quirky secondary characters, loved the birds (even though I can't draw a lick).

Favorite line:
When his history teacher decides to take a whole period "talking about the role of actors in world history," but finally concludes that "actors aren't so important after all. . . . You can't imagine an actor ever becoming president of the United States, for example" (300).

Anonymous said...

I love this book. Even though there are so many annoying characters, I like Doug and his attempt to make a change for the better. He had a crap situation and he rose above it. I like stories like that.

Favorite Quote:
"I'm not lying when I say that Hollywood actresses would kill for my mother's smile. You think Elizabeth Taylor can smile? If you saw my mother's smile, you wouldn't even let Elizabeth Taylor in the same room." pg. 16

Anne said...

I really enjoyed this book. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me want to punch Doug's dad in the eye! This time frame was the same time I was in jr. high, so I really related to the story. There were some irritating parts, but I enjoyed it. Doug grew so much, as did his brothers. I think the mom should have been more protective of her sons, but the times were different for women then.

Jen said...

I loved this book so much that I immediately read Wednesday Wars, and now both books are sort of a jumbled mess in my head. Candy once tried to teach me that you didn't have to deliver the whole of your story in the first chapter, and I think that Schmidt (sp?) has that concept down to a tee. I enjoyed getting to know Doug slowly. But I have to disagree with Lauri. I don't think Doug changed. Sometimes a person's circumstances makes others paint them with a certain brush stroke, and it's the rare individual who will look past that and allow the kind, intelligent and talented boy shine through. It's definitely worth the read and I'm not lying.

Stephanie :) said...

I loved this book. And, yes...I read it! I saw Doug's transformation as one person who believed in him caused him to believe in himself and others and they ended up believing in him and themselves. Is that too much of a circle talk? It made me want to believe the best in others and show it.
Favorite quotes: (I had a bunch and couldn't remember where lot were, so here's a few)
"You know how many words in Jane Eyre have more syllables than any word has a right to?"
"I should tell you that I was revealing this terrible secret to Lil while Miss Cowper was trying to teach us the Wonders of the Adverb and that when she asked if Lil and I had anything we’d like to share with the whole class, we stopped, quickly understanding that Miss Cowper was watching us angrily and would beat us mercilessly if we did not cease immediately. And I’m giving you that last sentence just to show that you can too talk and learn at the same time."
"I'm not lying." Just about anytime he said this cracked me up.
"I was a chump." I liked this when he said it because he felt good emotions, not when he felt bad about himself.
"You think I wasn't smiling when I heard that?"

Annell said...

Wow. I LOVE this book! It's a great reminder that kindness goes a very long way and can change lives. I'm definitely reading more by this author.

Favorite Quotes:
"I never thought that one person could own so many books. I picked one up off the desk and smelled its pages. The smell of old paper." pg. 31

"There are some things in this world that we cannot fix, and they happen, and it is not our fault, though we still might have to deal with them. There are other things that happen in this world that we can fix. And that is what good teachers like me are for." pg. 64

Lucinda said...

Wait.... Stephanie read the book? Now I feel the need to find it and read it ASAP!