The Wednesday Wars

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The Wednesday Wars
The wednesday wars.jpg
Hardcover dust jacket (2007)
AuthorGary D. Schmidt
Cover artistJonathan Gray
GenreHistorical Fiction,
Children's Literature
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date
May 21, 2007
Media typePrint
(Hardback & Paperback)
LC ClassPZ7.S3527 We 2007
Followed byOkay for Now 

The Wednesday Wars is a 2007 young adult historical fiction novel written by Gary D. Schmidt, the author of Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. The novel is set in suburban Long Island during the 1967–68 school year. The Vietnam War is an important backdrop for the novel. It was given a Newbery Honor medal in 2008, and was also nominated for the Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award in 2010.


Holling Hoodhood is a seventh grader during the 1967-1968 school year. In his school, the student body is largely divided between Catholics and Jews, and every Wednesday both groups go to their separate churches for religious classes. Holling, a Presbyterian, has no religious class to attend, therefore he is forced to remain at class with his teacher, Mrs. Baker.

Holling is convinced that Mrs. Baker resents him for this. This suspicion is compounded when she begins having him read Shakespeare. As he begins to enjoy the plays, though, he also begins to understand Mrs. Baker, whose husband, he learns, is stationed in Vietnam.

The story's main focus is on Holling's struggle to get out from his overbearing father's shadow. Mr. Hoodhood is an ambitious, social climbing, and at times, the cutthroat architect who is determined that Holling take over the business when he retires. In fact, Mr. Hoodhood believes that nothing is more important than their family business and ensuring that it flourishes. Because of this, all of the Hoodhoods must be on their best behavior at all times. Whenever Holling brings up a particular person, his father breaks down who the person is, as well as their status; if they're someone who owns a business, Mr. Hoodhood demands Holling to be respectful at all times. This causes a strained relationship between Holling and his father. Holling ultimately finds an ally in his older sister, Heather, and eventually comes to understand that Mrs. Baker is also trying to help him learn to be his own person.

Other subplots in the story include: Holing entering track; going on his first date with classmate Meryl Lee, whose father is of the other architecture firm in town, Kowalski and Associates; his sister Heather running away to California with her boyfriend; and the ever-present shadow of the Vietnam War — as well as other historical events, such as the shootings of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.. In addition, television news anchorman Walter Cronkite is mentioned throughout the novel, as an important presence while delivering the news. Cronkite is presented as the voice of the people, with the ability to sway Americans to a particular side.

The plot follows a steady, progression-focused format, lacking any clear climax. Instead, it simply follows Holling as he struggles through school, forms friends out of supposed enemies, and tries to grow up.

Publication history[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Kirkus Reviews called the novel "another virtuoso turn by the author of Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (2005)" in its starred review.[1] Susan Faust, reviewing for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote it was a "graceful novel [...] full of goodwill, yearning and heart".[2]



  1. ^ "The Wednesday Wars". Kirkus Reviews. 15 May 2007. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  2. ^ Faust, Susan (27 January 2008). "Review: Growing up in 'The Wednesday Wars'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  3. ^ "2008 Newbery Medal and Honour Books". Association for Library Services to Children. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  4. ^ "Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award Cumulative List 1988-2019" (PDF). Rebecca Caudill. 23 March 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018.

External links[edit]