Friday, April 23, 2010

The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt

My love for beautiful, powerful prose comes from being steeped in 19th century literature. I honestly have a very hard time with books written in modern English, particularly slang. So don’t ask me why I enjoyed The Wednesday Wars so much. Book bloggers raved about it when it came out in 2007 and it’s been on my TBR list since then.

Holling Hoodhood is a seventh grader at Camillo Junior High in 1967. Every Wednesday the other 7th graders leave school early to attend religion classes, half to the synagogue and half to the Catholic Church. Hollling, being Presbyterian, has no place to go and remains with his teacher to study Shakespeare. Throughout the school year, he not only learns to appreciate Shakespeare, but discovers his own capacity for compassion, forgiveness, loyalty and friendship.

The backdrop for the book is the Vietnam War and the author does an amazing job of making the event ever present, but not obtrusive to the story. From the hilarious Doug Swieteck to the surprisingly tender-hearted Mrs. Baker, Schmidt has peopled the book with believable and loveable characters. Even with my limited knowledge of Shakespeare I was able to enjoy the quotes (and misquotes!) from his plays. Highly recommended.

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