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Friday, February 24, 2012

The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt

Title: The Wednesday Wars
Author: Gary D. Schmidt
ISBN: 9780547237602
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Released: 05/21/2007
Page # 272
Source: Overdrive Audio through my library

"Meet Holling Hoodhood, a seventh-grader at Camillo Junior High, who must spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, while the rest of the class has religious instruction. Mrs. Baker doesn’t like Holling—he’s sure of it. Why else would she make him read the plays of William Shakespeare outside class? But everyone has bigger things to worry about, like Vietnam. His father wants Holling and his sister to be on their best behavior: the success of his business depends on it. But how can Holling stay out of trouble when he has so much to contend with? A bully demanding cream puffs; angry rats; and a baseball hero signing autographs the very same night Holling has to appear in a play in yellow tights! As fate sneaks up on him again and again, Holling finds Motivation—the Big M—in the most unexpected places and musters up the courage to embrace his destiny, in spite of himself."
First Lines:

"Of all the kids in the seventh grade at Camillo Junior High, there was one kid that Mrs. Baker hated with heat whiter than the sun."
Page 1

Full disclosure: I listened to this as an audiobook. I only feel the need to mention it because I really don't do that ever. And it feels weird to say I've read a book that really I just listened to. But I felt the need to post a review anyway :).

I now understand why I have been told to read this book so many times. It is, without a doubt, an amazing story. There's so much depth and humor and tragedy and love... it's amazing. I know there are some schools who have started reading this book in class - which really makes me wish I had it around in middle school. Ah well, I think I'm going to have a hard time doing this review without gushing a little bit.

At its core, this is a book about a seventh grade boy who has mishaps and crushes and embarrassing stories. But while he is reading Shakespeare one on one with his teacher, he begins to learn some larger life lessons that he wouldn't have gotten otherwise. He starts to see the world in a whole new way - a world that is being torn apart by the Vietnam War. He also begins to understand people better... and even compares them to Shakespeare characters.

Some of the adult characters were my favorite. Mrs. Baker sounds like an amazing teacher. His mother also sounds like an amazing woman - especially toward the end where you really see her personality come out. His sister is hilarious and the love between them is super obvious. I love that. There are so few books where the siblings actually care for each other like that. Holling's friends at school are wonderful, too. I think I laughed just about every time they had some crazy run-in.

There is just so much depth to this story, I'm not sure there is any way I can write a review that would do it justice. I do think that a class could spend weeks and weeks talking about all the different levels, though. Hello book club pick! Anyway, I really enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. And I know other people will too.

One note on the audio format - I thought the reader did a fantastic job. The thing that really stuck out to me was his emphasis on some of the Long Island accents. I think that may have made the book come alive for me even more. So I guess I'm recommending the format as well.

If you haven't read this book yet, I highly recommend you do. I promise you won't be disappointed.
Other Blog Reviews:

Alternate Readality
Librarilly Blonde
Project Mayhem
Jennifer Rumberger
Reading for Sanity
Quirky Girls Read
Jenni Elyse


Tammy said...

Fantastic review! I read this book a few years ago while working at the library. I'm happy to hear that they are reading it in some schools.

My anxious life said...

I am glad to see someone reading this book. Too many times old books get passed by now a days. I discussed it in my book club so if you want to stop by and add some comments feel free:



Ms. Yingling said...

Cannot get kids to read this book! I have a fairly new copy, but it's always the last one left on the display. Don't know why.

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