Thursday, May 9, 2013

Well, It's Been A While Since Last I Wrote

I haven't been keeping up with my reading journal the way I'd planned, but I sure have been reading. That's about all I did this winter--curl up on the couch with a good book. My favorite book since I wrote last has been Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt. Richard Peck wrote the review for the New York Times. I won't try to top that, but there were all kinds of reasons why I loved this book. The first was the voice--the narrator, Doug, had a very distinctive way of addressing the reader, asking numerous time, "You know how that feels?" And as the book progresses these questions shift from being confrontational, angry, hurt, to expressing joy, wonder, gratitude. The Doug's growth is displayed in his questions.

Another reason I loved this book was because each chapter began with a reproduction of an Audubon print of a bird and Doug's description of the print. I have always believed in the healing power of art and Doug comes under that spell. His ability to see his world in the world of Audubon's birds opened up new ideas of how pictures convey their meaning. I'm an artist, with an art degree, and I learned about composition from reading this book.

This is the last reason for liking the book that I'll give, but it's not the last reason I have--Doug has to reach outside his family to find adults who will give him the support and help that he needs to overcome so many obstacles in his path. And he finds help in many strange places and in turn is able to help others. The message is important--that there are people who care about you even when your parents can't or don't. Doug feels as if he is entirely on his own at the beginning of the book, with no one who can take his side, and by the end of the book he has built a community of caring people.

If you haven't read this book, you should--it's a great story, powerfully written.

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