The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt. (Grades 5-8.)
This is more of a plot summary than a review, but here's what I wrote after reading this in July '07:
"The year is 1967. Holling Hoodhood is stuck having Wednesday afternoons alone with a teacher who hates his guts. At first, she sticks to assigning him manual labor - he pounds erasers, cleans out the rat cage, cleans the classroom... But then she thinks of a more appropriate torture: Shakespeare.
Set with a background of the Vietnam War and the political climate of the late 60s, this story explores religion, politics, finding oneself, and coming of age. Holling's older sister has decided to be a flower child, much to the chagrin of their father. The girl that Holling has a crush on is the daughter of his father's fiercest business competitor. Holling's teacher, Mrs. Baker, has a husband fighting overseas in Vietnam. There is a lot of strife going on here. But through it all, Holling starts to figure out how to figure out exactly who he is, even if it's not who everyone else wants him to be. "
I remember that it took me a long time to figure out that this was historical fiction. And to be honest it wasn't one of my favorite reads (but it won a Newbery honor, so that shows how much I know...).
I think I may be alone in my "meh-ness", so be sure and check out many better-written reviews by people who loved the book like Sarah, Betsy, Becky, and Carlie.