I recently reviewed a book by Gary D. Schmidt . It was so good I got another of his books from the library and loved it as much as the first one. That man has got to be one of the best writers for young adults in this century!
And, no, I don't know him personally, though I'd certainly like to.
The Wednesday Wars is about a kid back in 1967 who is the only one in his class who doesn't leave school for religious classes on Wednesday afternoons. He's stuck with a teacher who seems to hate his guts and insists on making him spend their time together reading Shakespeare's plays.
Of course the boy, Holling, must also deal with the usual teen problems of being bullied, not getting along with his sister, wanting a girl to like him, and living with a domineering father. And those are just the beginning of his problems because he gets into some of the most embarrassing situations a kid could imagine.
But it's not only those conflicts and the believable characters that make the book great. The style of writing lets the reader feel what it's like to be Holling and to experience life in his world. And (gasp!) kids who read this book will even learn something about Shakespeare!