When his blowhard dad loses his job, Doug Swieteck’s family moves to tiny Marysville, a blue-collar town in upstate New York, far from his beloved Yankee Stadium. Doug is a smart, smart-ass 13-year-old. A new friend, Lil (Doug’s a delivery boy for her father’s grocery), refers to him as a “skinny thug.” Although Doug is secure in his mother’s quiet love, dodging his father’s blows (“He has quick hands,” Doug observed.), and his older brother’s rough bullying has made him careful. (It’s 1968. An older brother is in Vietnam. His gym coach has just returned. A man will soon walk on the moon.) Doug is used to navigating and observing. He’s very funny (he uses the language of baseball stats to chronicle life’s events). Slowly acclimating to the small town, Doug’s defensive humor gives way and he becomes complicit in his own learning. He learns to read in Miss Cowper’s detention class. (Schmidt barely reveals that Doug can’t read.) He learns to draw. Once a week Doug visits the library where Mr. Powell, the town librarian, teaches Doug to paint—really, how to see—using John James Audubon’s bird portraits as models. (An Audubon bird portrait introduces each chapter.) In fact, this costly portfolio is the key metaphor of the novel, a model for life as well as art. And this is also the key to Doug’s salvation, which is the point of this complex novel. This book, Okay for Now, unabashedly tackles very large ideas and several complicated plots. I’ve not mentioned most of them. The writing is unusually solid. There are a few plot contrivances; but I honestly don’t care. This story is among the most beautiful I’ve read and Doug’s voice sticks in my head like the voices of Salinger’s characters’ stuck so many years ago. Okay for Now is my selection for the 2012 Newbery Award. Grades 6–9.