On the shelf: ‘Okay for Now’ by Gary Schmidt

A good, hearty stew prepared with the right combination of vegetables, spices and meat can combine into a gourmet winter delight, tasty from the first bite to the last. Gary Schmidt’s youth book Okay for Now is like wonderful winter comfort food. The ingredients of this story combine to produce a most hearty read, from the first page to the last.

Fourteen-year-old Doug Swieteck has no choice when his family relocates to a small town in upstate New York. His troubles stay with him, like a bad aftertaste. His emotionally abusive father, his delinquent brother, and a reality he soon loves to hate. The people who surround him are so often completely caught up in their own pain that they are unable to reach out to him. Doug meets townspeople who take a special interest in him, and in turn, he begins to take an interest in others. He stumbles into the local library where expensive Audubon art prints and drawing lessons are savory tidbits that begin to transform his life, forever.

The author artfully stirs together an emotional but satisfying mix of humor, pain, redemption and hope into a memorable story. This combination of humor and pain create that same scrumptious blend of a sweet and salty dish.

Okay for Now is one of those books that cross generational lines. After you devour this novel, please recommend it to a teen you know, perhaps a grandchild or a friend — you will be full and completely satisfied!