I loved THE WEDNESDAY WARS by Gary D. Schmidt, but only recently read the sequel (or companion book), OKAY FOR NOW. What I want to know is, what the heck was I waiting for?!
Here is the blurb from IndieBound:
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.
How I know this book is great:
1. The protagonist. You can't help caring about him. So much voice, heart, strength, and vulnerability!
2. Everybody else in the book. Seriously. Schmidt's characters feel like real, three-dimensional people without ever feeling overwrought.
3. The scenes have shape. This is something I always strive for in my own work. Who doesn't, right? In OKAY FOR NOW, the scenes feel very natural but they're sculpted. For example, you can feel the scene breaks.
4. I love the way the lines build on each other. Lines get repeated, but it's not for lack of creativity. Sometimes it's for voice--and this book is bursting with voice. Sometimes a line grows in meaning with each use and a scene feels reinforced by the repeated line.
5. History is woven beautifully into the story.
6. The pacing. It's just right.
7. The rhythm of the sentences. I think rhythm matters so much in writing, whether it's in a picture book, a poem, or a novel.
8. The use of symbolism was impressive and lovely.
9. As I read, the words "masterfully crafted" kept floating into my mind. You know when agents or editors talk about wanting to know they're in good hands with storytellers? This is a perfect example of an author delivering a finely crafted work, and you just know you're in good hands right away. I do not mean the author draws attention to himself and his abilities, pulling you from the story dreamworld. He doesn't. But his skill level makes you feel secure as a reader.
10. I wish it had my name on the cover. :)
Have you read any of Gary D. Schmidt's books? When is the last time you loved a book so much you wished you'd written it?