Okay for Now – This book broke my heart about 10 different times. But it knit me back together, too. I read Wednesday Wars and liked it, but I don’t remember it very well (not unusual for me). You definitely don’t have to have read that first. This novel about Doug Swieteck and his family moving to upstate NY in the 60s stands on its own.
Doug has an abusive father, hoodlum brothers (one of whom is in the military now), and a mother with a beautiful smile whom Doug worships but who doesn’t seem to do a dang thing to protect Doug. And he has a bunch of adults, from the librarian to the principal, who think he is nothing but trouble.
Doug’s smart mouth does get him in trouble, but some plates from Audubon’s Birds of America start a transformation. Not that Doug loses the smart mouth. But he begins to find out that some people, if you give them a chance, will change your life. And that life, despite the bad parts that nobody really talks about, can be a beautiful, wonderful thing. And he finds that out without ever getting sappy.
This book combines horseshoes, baseball players, art, frostbite, cancer, poverty, alcoholism, parental horribleness, birds, friendship, hot chocolate, mentorship, Broadway, and love in a completely fresh way. Great boy narrator, and I think even reluctant guy readers would love this if they’re introduced to it.