Gary D. Schmidt
The Wednesday Wars
Clarion Books 2007
Holling Hoodhood is a 7th grader in 1967. Initially, he believes that his teacher hates him because he doesn’t fall into the category of students who go to religious classes Wednesday at 1:55. Half of his class goes to Hebrew class, the others Catechism. He is left alone with Mrs. Baker. She makes him do chores and he obliges because if he doesn’t his father might not get the big account with her family’s sporting goods store. So he grins and bears it. But later she decides they will spend the time reading Shakespeare. Initially he believes this is to torture him. But then he really likes it, and he thinks that he pulled a fast one on her, but really she is a great teacher and knows that he will enjoy it. Over time he doesn’t think that she hates him, and they have wonderful conversations. When Holling begins training for cross country try outs she coaches him, and it is discovered that she is a former Olympian. She fixes his form and he ends up being the only 7th grader to make the varsity and he also wins the first meet over hundreds of other 7th and 8th graders. Holling struggles with a strange relationship with his father, who’s main priority is that Holling will take over his architecture company someday and concerned with the state of the company. Holling is in a stage where he wants to figure out who he is. Through some experiences like acting in a play, getting a girlfriend, saving his sister (multiple times), he comes to the conclusion that he still doesn’t know who he is, but it’s okay. He realizes that life is an experience that isn’t defined simply by what profession you choose to support your family and how nice your car and house is. The end of the story ends happily, Mrs. Baker’s husband, who was out to war and MIA is found and returned. The story ends in hope.
Your Reaction: I loved this book. I think it was fabulous, I loved the message that it sent, that you need to find out who you are through living your life. I think it taught respectful relationships and was very relatable to real life. It’s ironic that I say that about relationships when I am listing it as a warning, but I feel like if a mature person can read this book they will see the truth in the relationships. I related to this book on many levels, with the teacher who coached her student in cross country and taught him English through the stories she loved.
Potential Problems: This deals with strained parental relationships where the child talks back. Also, Hollings’ sister Heather runs away. There is minor language concerns.
I highly recommend this book to late elementary through even as high as high schoolers. I think that their is a message to be learned that any age could benefit from, even and especially me. I think both boys and girls will enjoy this book. Favorite book all semester!