Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

I finished this book a couple of days ago, but I needed time to think about it and let it sink in my brain and heart. Whenever I read a great book, I feel a huge sense of dread and insecurity that my blog won't do it justice. With that being said, I will do my best to review the book Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt.
Again, I am so bad about saying I love books, but I just LOVED IT! The concept of the plot is the main character, Holling Hoodhood, (yes, that is his name...) believes his teacher hates him. And, sadly enough, she just may. Not that teachers ever think in terms of hate, but what she felt for the student in the beginning certainly could not be considered love. The book is set in 1967, in the suburbs of Long Island. Every Wednesday afternoon at the school, the seventh grade students either leave to go to the Jewish synagogue or the Catholic church for Hebrew School or Catechism. Every student that is except for the lone Presbyterian, Holling. Thus leaving the teacher with one student in her charge. Now teachers, think for a moment... A chance for a free period ruined by one poor Presbyterian. The teacher is now forced to come up with something to do with that one student.
She begins by having Holling do the menial job of eraser clapping. This job ends in a hilarious incident of chalk dust spread all over some cream puffs which are soon to be consumed by unwitting Wives of Vietnam Soldiers. When Mrs. Baker, the teacher, figures out this is not the way to go, she then turns to Shakespeare. She introduces Holling to the works of Shakespeare which also seems to be a mistake at first.
The story goes on to follow the relationship of teacher and student. This relationship goes further than one could ever expect. It goes from a student "knowing" the teacher "hates" him to the student in the end realizing he has no better "coach" in his corner. The plot also follows the relationship between the main character and his father, his sister, and of course what would a YA book be without a relationship with a girl.
I am now and always will be a fan of Gary D. Schmidt. I love his character development, plot twists and turns, and his humor. This book will have you laughing, crying, cringing, and pulling for everyone you meet in the course of the story. Not to be missed is the intertwining of history throughout. For a time period I know little about, The Vietnam War, I grew to really appreciate the hardships of everyone involved.
This book is best made for students in 7th grade or higher. It is remarkable at best. THE ONLY criticism I have is a criticism I have had in all Schmidt's books... WHAT IS UP WITH THE NAMES? I hate the choice for character names. I do not like getting caught up on how I should pronounce some character's name. I kind of just rename them in my head so I can focus on the story at hand. I know there is some reason for his choices, but come on... Holling Hoodhood? Who would have that name?
Run to your bookstore, flee to the library, merrily move your fingers to Amazon and check this book out!


Beckyb said...

A resounding YES from me!!! This is one of my favorites this year - but I've never read ANY of Schmidt's work that I didn't like either!!! That said, it was WONDERFUL and I totally agree - how can we even do it justice?!?!? So good!!!

Erin said...

I loved this book, and it's characters, too. :)

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree. As I read this book, I had to put it down after every chapter and go do something else for awhile. Not because it wasn't holding my interest, but because I wanted to make it last longer.