Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Wednesday Wars

The description of this book by  Gary Schmidt starts out like this:

"In this Newberry Honor-winning novel, Gary D. Schmidt offers an unforgettable antihero. The Wednesday Wars is a wonderfully witty and compelling story about a teenage boy’s mishaps and adventures over the course of the 1967–68 school year in Long Island, New York."

I agree about the book being witty and compelling.  I laughed out loud, and read it in about a day and a half.  But I disagree about it having an antihero.  The protagonist of the book, Holling Hoodhood, might not be made of the stuff we picture heroes being made of, but that doesn't make him "anti".  

The book begins by explaining that Holling's teacher, Mrs. Baker, hates him.  Every Wednesday afternoon, the catholic children are released from school early to attend Catechism, and the jewish children are released for Hebrew School.  That leaves protestant Holling with no where to go, which ruins Mrs. Baker's afternoon off.  Thus his Wednesday afternoons of torture begin.

I loved this book.  It touches on so many things we deal with (or fail to deal with) in our world.  There's prejudice, religion, war, coming-of-age, mistakes, cruelty, neglect, redemption, discovering oneself, and determining one's own destiny.  And under that all, it's a moral book.  

Here is a line that sums up why I like this book and find it worth reading.  It's from Mrs Baker to Holling:  

"Learn everything you can - everything. And then use all that you have learned to be a wise and good man."


  1. Look at me! I'm already commenting on my own post! I went to back to school night for Iliana last night, and her AP English teacher discussed context with us. He talked about how in the essays they read, it is really important to understand when something was written, what was going on at the time. These things give the reader insight into the author's meaning. Iliana didn't like this book when she first picked it up, and I think context is the reason. She didn't know enough about catholicism and Judaism, she knew nothing about the Vietnam war, and I hope she doesn't have any experience with feeling ignored and unloved at home. I wonder what her experience would be with this book now?

  2. We had a great discussion and some wonderful cream puffs too. Thanks for recommending this book and hosting Kristen!