Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

When Dad loses his job, almost-eighth-grader Doug Swieteck and his family move upstate to Marysville, New York. Doug lives with his parents and older brother Christopher. His oldest brother, Lucas, fights in the Vietnam War.

Dad emotionally and physically abuses the rest of the family and drinks a lot with his devious friend, Ernie Eco. Christopher vents his hostility by beating up on Doug. He also steals Doug’s prized baseball cap, which was given to him by New York Yankee Joe Pepitone. Before Doug moves, his best friend gives him the jacket Joe Pepitone gave him the day Doug got the cap. Doug keeps the treasured jacket hidden from his family. Doug adores his mother, who maintains a beautiful smile despite her circumstances.

In Marysville, Doug meets a feisty girl his age named Lil Spicer. She introduces him to the Marysville Public Library, where he discovers a rare book of Audubon’s artwork. Encased in glass, it is open to a picture of an arctic tern. Doug is amazed by the way the artist depicts movement.

Doug comes back to look at it several times, and a staff member named Mr. Powell helps Doug learn to sketch it. Doug discovers he enjoys sketching and has some artistic talent. When new Audubon pictures go on display, Mr. Powell helps him sketch them, too. Mr. Powell tells him the town is cutting pages from this priceless book and selling the Audubon prints to pay their debts. Doug is shocked and decides he’ll find a way to restore the collection.

Lil’s father runs a deli and gives Doug a delivery job on Saturdays. Dad takes all the money he earns, but Doug secretly keeps his tips. He meets interesting neighbors, like the eccentric playwright Mrs. Windermere. When the deli gets robbed, Christopher is a prime suspect.

Doug starts school and is considered a thug by association. His sarcastic comments to staff members solidify his reputation. The family receives word that Lucas is coming home. The letter warns that he looks a little different than before.

Doug’s science teacher, Mr. Ferris, provides a safe place for the boy. He vows not to judge him based on his brother’s reputation. When Mr. Ferris discovers Doug can’t read, he discreetly arranges for the English teacher to provide some extra help. She makes Doug read Jane Eyre against his wishes, but he concludes it’s not a bad story. When he mentions it to Mrs. Windermere, she decides to write a Broadway stage adaptation.

Doug continues to clash with other teachers, such as Coach Reed. The coach accidentally rips Doug’s shirt in class, revealing to all that Doug has a tattoo that says “Mama’s Baby.” Doug’s narrative reveals how his drunken father forced him to get it on his 12th birthday. The humiliation brings back painful memories and results in Doug getting into a number of fights at school.

Dad takes the family to the Ballard Paper Mill company picnic, when one of the prizes for a trivia contest is a ball signed by Babe Ruth. Doug is surprised by the wonderful event, during which the employees’ children receive nice watches.

An older man invites Doug to be his partner for the trivia contest, and Doug’s knowledge helps them win. He learns his partner was Mr. Ballard himself, and the man invites Doug to his office the following week to pick up his prizes. When Doug does visit, he learns Ballard gave the ball and prize money to Dad.

Doug knows he’ll never see the items now, but he pretends Dad gave them to him. Mr. Ballard and Doug play horseshoes, and Doug notices one of the Audubon prints in Ballard’s office. When Doug says he thinks the picture should go back in the library book, Ballard gives it to him.

Lucas returns from war. His eyes are covered with bandages, and both legs are missing. He wallows in self-pity until Doug and Christopher encourage him to move forward. He begins to look for jobs and is often rejected. War protestors even tell him he deserves the injuries he received for participating in combat.

Doug finds Coach Reed’s journal, and there are sketches in it. He discovers Reed is a Vietnam vet as well. They begin to talk, and Reed agrees to help Lucas. He eventually offers him an assistant coaching job. Lucas regains his dignity and joy.

Doug continues in his efforts to restore the Audubon collection by bargaining for the prints. Mrs. Windermere’s production of Jane Eyre goes to Broadway, and she casts Lil in one of the roles. Doug practices with her constantly. When Lil is hospitalized just before a performance, Doug is the only one who knows the part. Mrs. Windermere agrees to return her portion of the Audubon collection if he will dress as a girl and play the role. Despite his nervousness, particularly when he sees Joe Pepitone in the audience, Doug gives a stellar performance. He even gets to talk to his hero afterward.

Lil’s illness is serious, and she remains in the hospital. Doug visits often. Just before the trial for Christopher’s robbery, police come to the Swieteck home. They say they’ve received an anonymous tip, and Christopher is no longer a suspect. The narrative hints that Doug’s repentant father has informed authorities about his friend, Ernie Eco.

Dad and Mom talk for a long time, and it appears he genuinely wants to change as a husband and father. Doug manages to get all but one Audubon print returned to the collection. He puts his own sketch in place of the one that’s missing. Lil remains very sick. But as she and Doug watch the moon landing on the hospital TV, they remain hopeful for the future.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

Mrs. Windermere says creativity is a god who only comes around when he feels like it.

Authority Roles

Doug’s father steals from and abuses family members and frequently goes out drinking with his buddy. Mom tries to maintain a positive attitude, despite her burden to hold the family together. Adults like Mr. Ferris, Mr. Powell, Mr. Ballard, Coach Reed and Doug’s English teacher encourage Doug to draw, read, think and use his gifts.


Dad often uses the word freaking. He comes home drunk on Doug’s 12th birthday and forces him to get a flowery tattoo that says “Mama’s Baby.” Dad holds him down during the process, even though it hurts and Doug is crying. Afterward, Doug tries to scratch it off until it bleeds.


Doug kisses Lil after they play horseshoes together. He lies next to her in her hospital bed a few times to offer comfort.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

9 to 13


Gary D. Schmidt






Record Label



Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


On Video

Year Published



ALA Notable Children’s Books, 2012; National Book Award Finalist, 2011; and others


We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!