BOOK REVIEW: OKAY FOR NOW

ImageOKAY FOR NOW by Gary D. Schmidt

Read from March 30 to 31, 2013

Rating 5/5 stars

Okay for Now was first published on April 5th 2011, making it his eleventh published work. This is another historical fiction written by Gary D. Schmidt that was told by a teen named Douglas ‘Doug’ Swieteck. If you’ve read The Wednesday Wars, this wouldn’t be the first time you’ll hear of him. He first made an appearance as Holling’s classmate and eventually turned out to be his friend. Doug was more than a skinny thug, and he’s more than sure of that.

The story started when Doug and his family moved to a little upstate town in New York called Marysville, to accommodate proximity to his dad’s new job. Doug wasn’t very pleased with the decision. I couldn’t count the times he mentioned how he hate that stupid town. But in the course of time, he learned quite a lot of things about its people, whom he grew accustomed of.

There he met Lil Spicer, the quick-tempered daughter of the owner of the town grocery store; Mr Powell, the librarian who taught him how to draw; Mrs Windermere, the grumpy old woman who thinks the angel of God sits with her and enables her to write more plays; and a lot more.

Along the way he tried to readjust his cranky relationship with his abusive father, school mates, teachers, war veteran brother, neighbors, and even his other brother who, according to him, has a twisted criminal mind.

Other awesome factors in this book are:

  • John James Audubon’s Birds of America 1981
  • Doug’s obsession to Joe Pepitone
  • Jane Eyre
  • wrestling match in PE (I just love this, okay?)
  • Doug’s performance during Jane Eyre’s play
  • AND HELLUVA LOT MORE

I found this book in a book sale and I haven’t had an idea what’s this about. All I know was that he wrote The Wednesday Wars, so I bought it. I must say, that is one of the best decision I’ve made.  The level of respect I have for the author has come into an even higher degree. There is so much to learn while you go along its pages. As usual, it’s bone-achingly funny, inspiring and a little bit sad all at once.

The author have created vital characters that even just the thought of leaving one might ruin the mood of the story. He’s stitched all the scenes to make a beautifully-written prose. It’s just flawless.

There were moments when you want to drag his abusive father to jail for doing such horrible things to Doug. There were plenty of scenes wherein you just want to give him a big hug and to tell him that everything’s going to be fine. He’s too young to suffer such awful things and yet he seemed to survive. He’s one skinny delivery boy who has the ability to steal his readers’ hearts.

Gary D. Schmidt hurt my tummy ’cause I couldn’t stop laughing that I found it hard to breathe. He also hurt my jaw for making me smile a great number of times, and last, hurt my heart for making a heart-shattering novel that will always have a special part in me. He broke my heart in a bazillion little pieces but somehow managed to put it back together. You know how that feels?

TERRIFIC. I’m not being sarcastic, as opposed to Doug’s sardonic response to almost everything.

“When you find something that’s whole, you do what you can to keep it that way.

And when you find something that isn’t, then maybe it’s not a bad idea to try to make it whole again. Maybe.” ― Gary D. Schmidt, Okay for Now

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BOOK REVIEW: The Wednesday Wars

ImageTHE WEDNESDAY WARS by Gary D. Schmidt

Read from March 29 to 30, 2013

Rating: 5/5 stars

It has been a while since I last acknowledged someone as my favorite author. After reading this book, I think I just fell in love with the way Gary D. Schmidt writes. And I’m asking myself “why did you read this just lately?“.

The Wednesday Wars was first published in 2007, was given the Newberry Honor Medal in 2008 and was also nominated for the Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award. In this compelling young adult historical fiction, the protagonist, Holling Hoodhood has just entered 7th Grade in Camillo Junior High in Long Island, New Jersey in the year 1967. During Wednesdays, all his classmates had to proceed to their respective religion instruction places while he’s left with his teacher, Mrs. Baker. If there’s one thing Holling was sure of, it’s that Mrs. Baker doesn’t like him. He told everyone in his house about his ‘problem’ but unfortunately found no one to be his ally. His mom thinks that he’s just over-thinking things; while his dad told him to be in his best behavior because Mrs Baker could be the next prospect client for their company. The last person would be his sister, who he thinks is not a very good choice at the moment. According to him, asking your sister to be your ally is like asking North Caroline to go to battle with you.

Then there goes his quest the whole school year.  All the mishaps he’s gotten into together with his friends were recounted in this wonderfully written work. This is one of those books that can make you laugh out loud because of how witty the author wrote the entirety of it. At the same time, the book was so inspiring on its own. Mr Schmidt didn’t have to exaggerate things just to sound funny; it all comes  naturally. The characters were very likable. They’re the types of fictional people who are absolutely amusing in their own ways. Mrs Baker, Holling’s teacher reminds me of Mr Keating in The Dead Poets Society. I have a weak spot with fictional teachers who are so much of an inspiration to their students. Maybe it’s because I want to be one someday, right after I’m done with being an accountant, I guess.

Who would also forget these things?

  • Mrs Bigio’s brown, light, perfect cream puffs with chalk dust on top
  • Shakespeare and his insults
  • The rats, Sycorax and Caliban
  • Autograph signing with the pied ninny Mickey Mantle
  • Another autograph signing and baseball game with Joe Pepitone and Horace Clark
  • the war in Vietnam
  • Holling’s first ever play as Ariel wearing his bright yellow tights with the feather on his butt
  • Ford Mustang!
  • local hero news
  • Doug’s asshat brother
  • Hoodhood and Associate VS Kowalski Construction
  • Quality of mercy is strained.
  • Pied ninny. Just swell. Toads, beetles, bats.
  • Danny, Meryl, Mai Thi
  • Multiple death threats

I just love, love, love, love, love this book. There’s so much to appreciate and admire from this book and from the ever-witty author who made it possible for us to meet all these awesome characters. I felt heavyhearted when I finished the book.

I recommend this to everyone!! After all, it was worth the Newberry Award!

“A comedy is about character who dare to know that they may choose a happy ending after all. That’s how I know.” – Gary D. Schmidt, The Wednesday Wars

Book review: Cheaper by the Dozen

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CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN

by Frank Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

Read from January 27 to February 9, 2013

Rating: 4.6/5 stars

I bet you’ve heard about this or most probably you have seen the movie adaptation of this classic. This is a memoir about the Gilbreths. The father, Frank Gilbreth was a famous efficiency expert, and her wife, Lilian, was a psychologist. Frank believed that he can run his home like a factory and together with her wife, disciplined his twelve children in ways he believed was proper. By that, he meant doing something about the unavoidable delays.

HILARIOUS. 

Even when I was just reading the first few chapters, I couldn’t help but smile because of how amusing and likable Daddy Gilbreth was. He was the perfect example of a funny yet strict dad. He made sure that no time was wasted inside his house and that everyone knows how to follow his rules. It’s not like he had made an appearance as a dictator, but I reckon everyone who will be given the chance to read this will see him as someone who only wanted the best for his family.   *SPOILER ALERT*

  1.  With just one loud and long whistle, he can get the attention of everyone; from eldest to the youngest. Sometimes, he just whistles because they wanted to see them running their feet out.
  2. Being the strict taskmaster, he had everything scheduled from his kids’ brushing their teeth, to combing their hair, weighing themselves, etc.
  3. He appointed the older ones to be responsible for the younger ones all the time.
  4. Foolish Carriage – their car who had witnessed all the escapades the Gilbreths had went through. Daddy Gilbreth was a very bad driver.
  5. He believed that the greatest sin, and is considered to be the mortal sin that someone can commit inside their home is to waste TIME.
  6. Once, the children were mistaken as orphans because of the dress their dad made them wear. Because of that, their mom and the twelve of them became very upset that even their father haven’t had the chance to contradict their decision to stop wearing those dusters for good.
  7. There was a family council inside the house. Everything should go through votations.
  8. He bought a Victrolas to be used inside the bathroom while the children are waiting for their respective turns. There were French and German language records and the kids must finish their bath before the record is over.
  9. Everything that should be talked about during meals must be of general interest and for him, it’s about motion studies, or his mental Math tricks.
  10. Who would forget about the tonsils?!? 🙂

Those were just only a few. What I liked so much about this book is that sometimes all the characters seemed so flawless that I wanted to believe that this isn’t a memoir, but a fiction. The problem is, it isn’t. They were a perfect example of a family that has been sharpened through time. Like us, they had gone through struggles and pains as a whole but managed to make it anyway. The parents gave their kids everything they need. Being a so much better parents were just a bonus. And what I also admire about Daddy Gilbreth is that he didn’t treat the younger ones like they’re less efficient than the older ones. Instead, he taught them the same  things he taught the elder ones. Imagine a kid being able to multiply big numbers mentally! Daddy Gilbreth never ran out of words to say to his family and it’s obvious that he respect him so much. Their mom? Being the amazing mom that she was, was always there to support her husband to every decision there was. And just notice how they’re irrevocably in love with each other after all those years. What can I say? I just admire this family, but let’s not forget that we have our own and it’s in our hands how we make every second with them as fun as the Gilbreth’s. So inspiring.

Laugh-out-out loud funny! You won’t reach another chapter without bursting out laughing with all the happenings.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. 🙂

“Really, it was love of children more than anything else that made him want a pack of his own.” – Frank Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen

Book Review: Go Ask Alice

go ask alice

GO ASK ALICE by Beatrice Sparks

Read from January 24 to 27, 2013

Rating: 2/5 stars

This has to be one of the darkest and gloomiest book I’ve read after Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. This tells the story of Alice, the narrator of the story, who recounts her journey with drugs and sex through her journal; and how she entirely lost her innocence, youth and entire life to those things.

I marked this as to-read way back in October 2011. Since then, I searched through bookstores and book sales hoping to find a copy of this one. I’ve heard great things about this young adult book and last January, I finally got around to reading it.

Maybe I expected too much from this. I have this thing with books in the form of journal entries that makes me so curious about reading them. That attribute just makes them so real and raw. It’s like what’s truly inside the writer’s mind has been poured on that book. No revisions. No editing. No proofreading. Just real emotions.

I find this book terribly awful. I thought I could somehow relate to the character because we’re both teens who go through similar things like changing preferences, curiosity about things, friendship dramas, family issues, budding adolescence and whatnot; but the more I read, the more I hated the book. Basically what we have here is a teen who doesn’t know what she wants and what she’s supposed to do with life. Well, we’re all like that at times but in her case, I think everything she did was plain stupid. She searched for things from people who are of no help, and in the end, she’s the loser. Alice lacked self-control, I must say.  On the other hand, this is an eye-opener to everyone and this helped me in killing the boredom during our Marketing class.

I recommend it to everyone who loves reading books about disturbed teens, drug and sex abuse. I know I sound so bitter about this book but let me just leave you with a wonderful quote from this book.

“Why is life so difficult? Why can’t we be just ourselves and have everyone accept us the way we are?” ― Beatrice Sparks, Go Ask Alice