Doug loves to talk about Joe Pepitone, a former baseball player, like he is the greatest person and he has his reasoning. He met him when he and another baseball player visited him and his friends for a reason I have quickly forgotten but that's not the point! One of his friends is the main character in The Wednesday Wars which I really need to read again because I can't remember that too... So Joe Pepitone is his hero. Someone he thinks about when his life gets unfair and someone to look up to which he can't do with the authority figure in his family.
He is constantly subjected to brotherly abuse by one of his brothers, Christopher, who acts just like his father. He is slowly becoming a juvenile delinquent and it's obvious why, his father is a piece of work. I mean you can't get worse than him. He talks badly about his bosses like they are doing a misjustice to him when you know by the way he treats his family there is no way that can be true. He hits his kids if they say something wrong and makes his mom cry. He hangs out with Ernie Eco this shady character that is just the same as him or maybe worse. I suspect he enables him. Meanwhile another juvenile delinquent brother, Lucas, is off in the Vietnam War.
The first people he meets at his new town are two stuck up girls. One is actually a woman. She is the librarian and I found their encounter extremely entertaining: "These steps were not made for people to sit on," she said, "especially since you might get in the way of others who would wish to use them." I looked up and down the block, then moved way over to the edge of the steps. "Dang," I said. "I didn't see all the people jamming to get inside. Don't they all know that Marysville Free Public Library does not open until ten o'clock? She sniffed. I'm not lying. She sniffed. "Go find some other place to be rude," she said. "Is this one reserved for you?" I said.
That's just a bit of the type of humor you can find in this book. Sarcasm. You got to love it. The other girl is a reader and I feel like she sets a bad example in the beginning for readers. I would never be all uppity and assume he is up to no good. Readers are not like that! And I don't appreciate her being portrayed that way. I do soften up to her later on mostly because of Doug.
Through Lil, the reader, he meets Mrs. Windermere an eccentric play writer who cannot help but to be frustrated whenever he interrupts her when she is in the zone. "Creativity is a god who comes only when he pleases, and it isn't very often. But when he does come, he sits beside my desk and fold his wings and I offer him whatever he wants and in exchange he lets me type all sorts of things that get turned into plays for which people who own New York stages are waiting." She has a thing for different types of ice cream which I can appreciate.
Doug finds a book in a library. A single large book at the top of some stairs in a glass case. It's John James Audoban's Birds of America and he just stares at the bird that the page is on and tries to trace it with his fingers. This is where Mr. Ballard comes in. He's another librarian who is not so uppity. This book has for every chapter a picture out of the Audoban book. Doug describes the birds in such a way where you would think they were this majestic and noble creatures and then you look at the picture and you're like "Where did you get that from?" I can't believe Schmidt can make me want to read more about a bunch of birds.
Doug is written off a lot. Like A LOT as a juvenile delinquent like his brother when things start going missing. Doug is the perfect person! He is this sarcastic but loving kid who doesn't deserve all the crap he's been given. His Principal, Principal Peatie, who likes to refer to himself in the third person, is always waiting for him to mess up. His gym teacher, a veteran, is the same way. Doug always is saying "Do you know how that feels?" and I want to just run up to him and hug him even though I don't know how that feels but I am so glad things are going your way! Doug also loves his mother. He's a real sweetheart in that aspect. There is one thing that was commented on during the book that I had to add here because you have to read for your own eyes how amazing he is. "Audubon called them called them Red-Throated Divers. They're a sort of loon. It's a lovely family group, I think. Peppermint?" "Some family," I said. "No one's paying attention to the mother. Who could blame her if she took off? Look at them." A minute or so went by, and them Mrs. Windermere said, in a voice as soft as summer blue air, "Skinny Delivery Boy, you have it all wrong. Look how she's standing close to her little one. She's looking around to watch for the next spectacular thing that's going to come into his life." Did you read what I read!? Don't you want to hug him now?
There is one more important event going on other than the Vietnam War that his brother Lucas is in. The Moon Landing. Doug has one certain teacher who is absolutely excited by this and you know how excited he is by how much his toy horse Clarence moves. He is of course the science teacher. More and more I've begun to like historical fiction. I've discovered here that it doesn't have to be about slavery because that's what I've read before and is what I associate with historical fiction. Slavery and the Holocaust. This does talk about that era of time where there was war and new discoveries but it's mostly about the goodness in people and never judging someone based upon other people or assuming by the way they look they are bad people. Schmidt is kind of tricking us in this book. He puts this very likable character that can do no wrong with a great sense of humor. You get emotionally attached to these characters like authors like to do to mess with you. He then gets us interested in things and teaches us things in a way only he can. Schmidt is officially now one of my favorite authors and I am proud that he is because of characters like Doug and stories like his. This book is truly worth reading. It deserves awards and praise from everywhere. I can't wait till I see what Schmidt's going to do next.