Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review: The Wednesday Wars

The Wednesday Wars
By Gary D. Schmidt, read by Joel Johnstone
Published 2007 by Scholastic

Holling Hoodhood is prepared for a rough seventh-grade year. He is convinced his teacher hates him and his father seems to be putting the weight of the entire future on Holling's shoulders as he talks about how Holling will someday inherit his architecture company. But it's 1967 and things are changing, especially for Holling.

I actually read Okay for Now at the end of last year because one of the librarians I worked with insisted it I read it immediately. Plus it was getting a lot of award buzz and I like to keep up with that. I really enjoyed it and when I realized it was the companion for this novel, I knew I wanted to read this book soon. I downloaded the audiobook and basically devoured it in a couple of days. My first thought upon finishing this book was, "Did Gary Schmidt have a really terrible father?" While Mr. Hoodhood is not nearly as horrible as Mr. Swieteck (from Okay for Now), neither man is going to be winning a "Father of the Year" award anytime soon. I know that family and gender dynamics were different in the 1960s but it just makes me wonder if Schmidt is writing his own experiences into the story. Of course, he probably isn't and he's just a very talented writer, using the terrible dads to help his main characters grow and learn. As I mentioned before, I tore through this audiobook - it was a very easy and enjoyable listen and flew by quickly. The book takes place over the course of an entire school year as Holling begins to discover who he is and who he might be. Holling was a very easy to relate to character who I really wanted to see succeed. Schmidt seems to have a knack for creating sympathetic young men (though, I've only read two of his books). I enjoyed listening to Holling's coming-of-age and I liked the historical aspect of the story - it does feel very much like it takes place in the 60s. There is just something extraordinarily well-done in Schmidt's novels - they feel authentic and engaging and I've enjoyed what I've read so far. I very much look forward to reading more by Schmidt. This book is highly recommended for fans of historical or realistic fiction, or kids looking for a funny book (there is a fair amount of humor in here).

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