Genre: Historical Fiction
The Wednesday Wars is a historical fiction novel by the author Gary D. Schmidt. I particularly don’t like the genre historical fiction and in 7th grade when we had to choose a historical fiction book for our English class, I chose this because this book looked the smallest (with fewer pages) and I took it off the shelf deciding to read it. This book is about Holling Hoodhood, a young boy who begins seventh grade in a small suburb on Long Island, New York. His dad works in an architectural business. His life is filled with worries about the family architectural business, friends, and immediate threats from older classmates. He doesn’t realize the other dangers in the world in 1967, including the Vietnam War, discrimination, and the pain and suffering of those around him.
Hoodhood, who believes his teacher Mrs. Baker hates him, is forced to spend each Wednesday afternoon in class alone while his classmates, Catholic and Jewish, attend religious instruction. Hoodhood, a Presbyterian, is instead asked to do chores. Over time, however, Mrs. Baker sees in Hoodhood the spark of brilliance, and she begins teaching him Shakespeare. Through the words of Shakespeare, Hoodhood begins to understand there is more to the world than he initially realized.
At home, his sister is slowly changing her political views and begins to align herself against the Vietnam War, much to her father’s dismay. Father is primarily concerned about his business and his standing in the community, and Hoodhood knows he is to follow in his father’s footsteps. In school, Hoodhood begins to see discrimination as a classmate, a recent refugee from Vietnam, is tormented not only by classmates, but by teachers who have lost loved ones in the war. Hoodhood himself feels discrimination as he is denied an autograph from Mickey Mantle due to how he looks, and he begins to understand that the world is never fair, and can be often cruel. Although Mrs. Baker does try to make things better for Hoodhood, even she is down as her husband is missing in Vietnam.
When his sister leaves home to find herself, Hoodhood realizes his love for her, as well as understands her need to strike out on her own. He is able to relate his teachings back to the readings of Shakespeare, and he finally understands the true meaning behind Mrs. Baker’s decision to teach him the plays. He learns to stand up for himself and those he cares about, and to find beauty and life whenever possible, in spite of the knowledge that war and death are prominent in the world. By the end of the novel, Hoodhood has learned that life is about compromise, and about finding your own destiny.
I didn’t particularly feel bored while reading this book, although I prefer thrillers and suspense kind of books. It is worth giving this book a try and it can be finished fast as it is a small book.