Can I tell you right off how much I LOVED LOVED LOVED OKAY FOR NOW by Gary Schmidt. I loved every word of this book. I was hooked in the first few pages and loved it more and more as the book went on.
The story is about Doug Sweiteck who is having a tough time of things. His father (who is not so nice to him or any of his brothers) loses his job so moves the family to a new town. Doug isn't happy and has trouble making friends. His older bother is a trouble-maker and his reputation seems to impact the expectations people have for Doug too. His oldest brother is in the Vietnam War but returns home injured. Life at home is not good for Doug.
The good news is that Doug finds some people who learn to trust and believe in him for who he is. This is a story of art and survival. It is a story of friendship and resilience. It is a story of hope and of suffering. The people in Doug's life are very believable. Many are teachers and librarians. Many would make our "COOL TEACHERS IN CHILDREN'S LITERATURE" list (although many might not...).
The author is amazing at weaving together many themes in a way that give a great amount of depth to Doug's story. I am hoping to reread it soon to read for these threads that Schmidt weaves through the entire book.
I think the thing I love best about this book is the character's voice. He is a character I care deeply about and one who I am pretty sure will stay with me for a very long time. He is complex and very human.
I think this book is a good one for grades 5 and up. It is marketed as YA in some places but it seems between middle grade and YA to me.
When I sat down after finishing the book, I realized how brilliant the title is. I LOVED the WEDNESDAY WARS but I LOVED LOVED LOVED this one. I am already hoping it wins some prize for 2011. (This is the first book I have dared to say this about in 2011!)