Doug Sweiteck, the main character telling his story in Okay For Now, is a junior high school kid with Voice! He’s tough, but life is tough on him. He lives in poverty with an abusive dad, a jerk for a big brother, and another brother off fighting in Vietnam. His mom is kind and caring but beaten down by her situation.
In spite of everything that’s going against him, there’s something about Doug. Even when he acts like a jerk you know deep down he’s really okay. At least for now.
When Doug’s father loses his job it’s no surprise. Doug’s dad is lazy and mean, with an undisguised hatred for most everybody. The family moves to a small town in upstate New York where an old friend of Doug’s father has found him a job. But the old friend is trouble.
As a new kid in town that summer before eighth grade, Doug tries to find his way. He meets Lilly, who calls him a skinny thug, yet invites him to her father’s store where he gets a job as a delivery boy.
Doug gets to know the town librarian, who encourages him to copy drawings of birds from an original Audubon book that’s being sold off page by page to pay the city’s bills. Doug takes great comfort and insight from these birds and from his careful drawing of them, and vows to get all the pages back where they belong.
His grocery delivery job brings him in contact with several interesting town’s folk who vacillate between liking and trusting him, and later fearing him when stores around town are broken into and his brother is the prime suspect.
School starts and teachers come into the picture. Some want to help him while others seem to want nothing more than to break him. Doug forges on.
Okay For Now has tremendous depth, with the characters around Doug burdened by their own baggage and motivations. Besides being a gripping story, Okay For Now offers insight into history (the Vietnam War and the moon landing), artistic technique (the Audubon drawings), and what it was like growing up in the 1960s.
Okay For Now is the companion book to the Newbery Honor award winner, The Wednesday Wars. It’s classified as a Young Adult novel for approximately ages 13 and up. The book tackles some tough topics, and tackles them well.