The Wednesday Wars is a coming of age story that will provoke equal parts laughter and reflection. A comic account of the fictional Holling Hoodhood’s seventh grade year, the book also plumbs unexpected emotional depths as Holling navigates bullies, friendships, and familial stress, all to the grim backdrop of the Vietnam War. Throughout his adventures, Holling reads a number of Shakespearean plays at the direction of his teacher, making the book rife with literary allusions and explorations of Shakespeare’s most famous lines and themes. Holling’s first person narration also includes plenty of playful instances of figurative language. Teachers will find this book a perfect opportunity to explore literary concepts while keeping students engaged and entertained.
Holling, clean out Sycorax and Caliban's cage today...
Holling Hoodhood lives with his parents and sister in “the perfect house” on Long Island, New York. He is just beginning seventh grade at Camillo Junior High with the strict Mrs. Baker as his homeroom teacher.
Sometimes it feels as if life is governed by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
When the other students leave for religious education on Wednesday afternoons, Holling is the only student left in class. Holling believes that his teacher, Mrs. Baker, hates him for this and is out to make his life miserable.
First Mrs. Baker gives Holling chores to keep him busy. Then she assigns him Shakespeare plays. The lessons of the plays seem to connect to his life. Holling navigates bullying, community theater, and sports, alongside fears about the Vietnam War. Holling's father keeps tensions high in the Hoodhood household, causing Holling’s older sister to run away.
One Wednesday, Mrs. Baker takes Holling on an architectural tour of his city. During the tour, he realizes there is more to architecture than money and prestige as his father thinks. Holling reassesses his priorities; he realizes that he cares about his friends and Mrs. Baker and misses his sister Heather.
Is there anything else we can do?
Holling cashes in his savings bond to help his sister return home. He goes on an end-of-the-year class field trip, and later attends Danny Hupfer’s bar mitzvah.
Holling stands up to his father, telling him that being a man is about more than a good job. The story ends on a happy note with Holling confident in himself, surrounded by friends, and watching as Mrs. Baker’s husband returns home safely from Vietnam.