Okay For Now, by Gary Schmidt, is the story of a boy who discovers a love of beauty and of himself by learning to appreciate plates from a book of Audubon’s birds. Doug is fourteen years old. He is new to town and has no friends. His father abuses him and his brother is a jerk. Life is pretty much miserable at school and home. Then he finds a refuge in a new friend, Lil, and in the library.
This book is a wonderful coming of age read for teens and adults. The darker moments of Doug’s abusive father and his wounded brother’s return from Vietnam, while definitely negative, are not written in an unnecessarily graphic way. The focus is on Doug finding the plates of bird paintings that have been cut from the book and sold to pay for the library. As he locates each one, he also discovers something about himself. All the characters in this book grow, but Doug and Lil are special.