The Wednesday Wars - book cover
Literature & Fiction
  • Publisher : Clarion Books; Reprint edition
  • Published : 18 May 2009
  • Pages : 288
  • ISBN-10 : 054723760X
  • ISBN-13 : 9780547237602
  • Language : English

The Wednesday Wars

In this Newbery Honor–winning novel, Gary D. Schmidt tells the witty and compelling story of a teenage boy who feels that fate has it in for him, during the school year 1968-69.

Seventh grader Holling Hoodhood isn't happy. He is sure his new teacher, Mrs. Baker, hates his guts. Holling's domineering father is obsessed with his business image and disregards his family. Throughout the school year, Holling strives to get a handle on the Shakespeare plays Mrs. Baker assigns him to read on his own time, and to figure out the enigmatic Mrs. Baker. As the Vietnam War turns lives upside down, Holling comes to admire and respect both Shakespeare and Mrs. Baker, who have more to offer him than he imagined. And when his family is on the verge of coming apart, he also discovers his loyalty to his sister, and his ability to stand up to his father when it matters most.

Editorial Reviews

* "Schmidt, whose Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy won both Printz and Newbery Honors, delivers another winner...deeply satisfying." -Publishers Weekly, starred review

* "Schmidt ... [gets] to the emotional heart of every scene without overstatement ... another virtuoso turn." Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* "Schmidt...makes the implausible believable and the everyday momentous...a gentle, hopeful, moving story." -ALA Booklist, starred review

"[An] entertaining and nuanced novel.... There are laugh-out-loud moments that leaven the many poignant ones." School Library Journal

"An accessible, humorous school story, and at the same time, an insightful coming-of-age tale." Bookpage


Readers Top Reviews

TD Sue FarrantUsed
This a great book that is both well written and fun. It makes the study of literature fun, as well as talking about how war effects all areas of life.
Sir Furboy
I started this book on January 1st, and as I had the day off, finished it that evening. The following day I made a big deal out of this being the best book I had read this year. Now it is late March and I am reviewing it here, and it still is the best book I read this year. This story was frequently hilarious, and often touching. The characters were wonderful, colourful, amusing and just so real. The book is essentially a coming of age tale, set against the back drop of an America at war in Vietnam and in the grip of cold war paranoia. Holling Hoodhood is the only Presbyterian child in a class of Catholics and Jews, and thus the only one who does not go off to one kind of religious instruction or another on a Wednesday afternoon. This leads to some quality time with a teacher who, too start with at least, he is quite sure hates him - and who presumably resents the necessity to look after a class of one. The way the author writes this is just excellent. I could not put the book down. At times I wanted to almost cry with laughter and other times I was deeply moved by this first rate story, which really deserves to be much more widely known. Called a young adult book, this is a story adults will love too.
I loved this book. It is marketed as a children's book and it won a much deserved Newbery Honor. It is from a 7th grade boy's perspective during 1967-1968 (Vietnam War and the assassinations) while learning Shakespeare. It has so many little tidbits to think about. Tidbits like: "But perfect or not, it was hard living in between." "We read The Merchant of Venice the next Wednesday, too, and finished it on the last Wednesday of October. After we closed our books, Mrs. Baker asked me to discuss the character of Shylock. “He isn’t really a villain,” I said, “is he?” “No,” said Mrs. Baker, “he isn’t.” “He’s more like someone who wants...” “Who wants what, Mr. Hoodhood?” “Someone who wants to become who he’s supposed to be,” I said. Mrs. Baker considered that. “And why couldn’t he?” she asked. “Because they wouldn’t let him. They decided he had to be a certain way, and he was trapped. He couldn’t be anything except for what he was,” I said. “And that is why the play is called a tragedy,” said Mrs. Baker." "At the happy ending of The Tempest, Prospero brings the king back together with his son, and finds Miranda’s true love, and punishes the bad duke, and frees Ariel, and becomes a duke himself again. Everyone—except for Caliban—is happy, and everyone is forgiven, and everyone is fine, and they all sail away on calm seas. Happy endings. That’s how it is in Shakespeare. But Shakespeare was wrong. Sometimes there isn’t a Prospero to make everything fine again. And sometimes the quality of mercy is strained." “Shakespeare did not write for your ease of reading,” she said. No kidding, I thought. “He wrote to express something about what it means to be a human being in words more beautiful than had ever yet been written.”Mrs. Baker looked at me for a long moment. Then she went and sat back down at her desk. “That we are made for more than power,” she said softly. “That we are made for more than our desires. That pride combined with stubbornness can be disaster. And that compared with love, malice is a small and petty thing.”
Amanda White
I feel like this book might have landed on my list of top ten books of all time. NO JOKE. How have I never read anything by Gary D Schmidt before?! Why has no one ever told me about his books?? The Wednesday Wars was hilarious--funny almost to the point of a Louis Sachar book like Sideways Stories. I mean, not that fantastical, but seriously SO FUNNY. But also? The most poignant, meaningful, insightful, thought-provoking and heart-wrenchingly beautiful words, stories and characters. I have always loved books that go through one year-- so going thru 7th grade with Holling Hoodhood (yes!!!) of Long Island in 1967 during the Vietnam War was just a wonderful, whimsical coming-of-age story that I could not put down. I don't feel like there are a lot of books set in this time and I love it b/c altho' it's historical (especially for kids today), it's also very current (for an old lady like me born in the 70's). I can't even really write anything super profound about this book b/c it was just so lovely I could never do it justice--but the bar mitzvah, the cross country race, the hot chocolate, the baseball gloves, the yellow tights and every single character---well, I cried happy and sad tears rolling down my face more than once. Thank you, Mr. Schmidt!
D. Perchez
This book was assigned as extra credit for my granddaughter's 5th grade class. It was pretty long so I told her, she could read a page and I would read two. The book is a great book. It is funny and the dialogue flows nicely. It is mostly believable from one who grew up in the time period. It is 1967 and 1968 with several historical events and national tragedies included as background to the storyline. There is a lot of depth to this book including heroes and people with serious character flaws, family dynamics with teenage rebellion and redemption, character growth and triumphs and a bit of Shakespeare to parallel the narrative. I bought a second copy and gave it as a gift to an adult. I would highly recommend this book.

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