Retro Friday Reviews is hosted by Angieville. Basically you highlight a lesser known or older title on Fridays. Sound Bytes is hosted by Devourer of Books, the point being to highlight an audiobook on Fridays.
Y’all I love a good historical fiction. I also love a great audiobook. When these elements combine, it’s like a double rainbow. The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt combines these elements, and provides a glimpse into Holling Hoodhood’s life. You see, Holling is a 7th grader in the 1960s. He does not leave class early for catechism class or Hebrew class like his Catholic and Jewish classmates. Instead, Holling is the only kid left in class, much to the perceived ire of his teacher, Mrs. Baker who assigns him Shakespeare as out of class reading to fill the time. At turns hilarious and heartfelt, The Wednesday Wars is a fantastic, multilayered read that doesn’t paint the 1960s with the nostalgia brush but takes an honest look at such a turbulent time through the eyes of a pre-teen.
Oh my goodness, friends I fricken loved The Wednesday Wars. I loved the Shakespeare references. Here’s the thing, I have never read Shakespeare for pleasure because I don’t understand him, however, I like the idea of him. And I like reading books that make me want to seek out his works without being forced by a teacher. And yo, the Caliban curses ‘toads, beetles, bats’ make for some excellent laugh out loud moments.
I loved Holling. He’s such an earnest character with his worry about wearing yellow tights with white feathers on the butt. I know that’s a brief little teaser. He’s also dealing with his dad who cares more about image than family. Holling has fights with his sister, yet there’s a deep level of sibling affection too, I mean, not Flowers In The Attic affection, but legit I care about you affection. We also see Holling lose some of the trappings of childhood, making The Wednesday Wars poignant. It’s not all fun and games when you become disillusioned by your childhood heroes. And let me tell you, it’s a little hard to listen to, but worth the ultimate pay off.
In essence, The Wednesday Wars is a fabulous story about growing up and learning some very hard truths. As I said about, it’s set during a very turbulent time in history, and does address things like racism and the Vietnam war. It does address the social problems of the time instead of brushing them aside for a whitewashed history. And I loved that, I loved the honesty. I loved that there was still humor despite the darkness.
Further, I absolutely recommend reading Gary D. Schmidt’s book via audio. The narrator, Joel Johnstone has a pitch perfect voice, reminding me of The Wonder Years or the Sandlot narrator. Honestly I was yearning for a perceivably simpler time, despite the ’60s being anything but. Further, Johnstone has a storytelling voice, where as a listener, you find yourself leaning in, wanting him to recount even further adventures. Either way, I’ve found a great narrator and definitely an audiobook to recommend to beginners. The Wednesday Wars audiobook is produced by Scholastic audio and is 7 hours and 27 minutes long.
Disclosure: Purchased with an audible credit.
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