2011 National Book Award Finalist,
Young People's Literature

Gary D. Schmidt

Okay for Now

Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Gary Schmidt by Myrna Anderson


As a fourteen-year-old who just moved to a new town, with no friends and a louse for an older brother, Doug Swieteck has all the stats stacked against him. So begins a coming-of-age masterwork full of equal parts comedy and tragedy from Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt. As Doug struggles to be more than the “skinny thug” that his teachers and the police think him to be, he finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer—a fiery young lady who “smelled like daisies would smell if they were growing in a big field under a clearing sky after a rain.” In Lil, Doug finds the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a whole town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Together, they find a safe haven in the local library, inspiration in learning about the plates of John James Audubon’s birds, and a hilarious adventure on a Broadway stage. In this stunning novel, Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.


Gary D. Schmidt is the author of Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (2005), which won both Newbery and Printz Honors, and The Wednesday Wars (2008), winner of a Newbery Honor. He teaches writing in the English Department at Calvin College, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.




I showed Lil how to hold the shoe at the top, how to stand with her heel at the post, how to swing her arm a couple of times, and she threw the first one about ten feet, which isn’t, in case you don’t know, even in the neighborhood of how far it has to go. Then she threw the second one ten feet again and got so disgusted that she threw the third one as hard as she could and it hit on its side and rolled almost all the way to the post. Then she figured that she had the technique down and she threw the last one as hard as the third, except that she didn’t let go until the end of her swing, and the horseshoe went straight up into the air and she screamed and ducked and I bent over her and held her so it wouldn’t hit her when it came down except it came down next to us instead of on top of us and when we stood up, she looked at me like—like I’d done something noble and heroic.

You know how that feels?


Then we collected all the horseshoes and walked over to the other post and she said, “Why don’t you throw one?” and so I did.

It was perfect. I swung my arm twice, let the horseshoe go just right, and it flew up, slowly, gracefully, and then it turned once and let its two ends come down and it landed flat and skidded on the sand just enough to ting the post.

It was a beautiful sound that. . .

Well, I’m lying.

I missed the stupid post by a mile.

But it doesn’t matter, because something else happened when we finished throwing horseshoes that was even better.

Reader, I kissed her. A quiet walk back we had, she and I.

Author photo: Myrna Anderson