Schmidt managed to take a peripheral character from "Wednesday Wars" and give him his own unique story with just as much heart and humor as Holling's. In some ways, this was even more satisfying because the changes in Doug's life during this one year were even more extreme. It's a busy, day-to-day life type of story, yet there is progress in a plot, including tension right until the end about some thefts in the town. You gain insight into some bad guys and discover how people can change, and how some don't. As in "Wednesday Wars," I love how there's a sweet, realistic love story too.I still don't know how much kids like this kind of writing. I hope there's enough humor and real life they can relate to. About the audio: Lincoln Hoppe is great. He does just the right amount of smart-alecky when appropriate. There were moments when I suddenly teared up while driving. The only downside of the audio for me is that the phrase, "I'm not lying" got a little old, and if I had been reading about the drawing instruction, I would've probably skimmed those parts.