The plot sequence for The Wednesday Wars starts out with Holling being left out of Hebrew School and Catholic Catechism Class, which is the dilemma that lands Holling in testy Mrs. Baker's room, who seems to view Holling as an unwelcome intrusion. After grilling him on why he is there, criticizing his grammar and making him generally miserable, she devises other means to keep him occupied and out of her way, like moving cream puffs and dusting chalk erasers. Finally, she resorts to having him read Shakespeare's The Tempest, the tale of a conjurer who is the dethroned rightful Duke of Milan exiled on a mystical island who contrives to have his daughter well wed and to return home to reclaim his throne. [Incidentally, these elements in The Tempest all reflect on the story of The Wednesday Wars.]
Amidst landing a potentially embarrassing role in the school production of The Tempest, bad news for Holling's family--when the home his father designed gets a leaky roof--a game of catch with two Yankees players, an emergency visit to the hospital, more bad news for his dad when his architectural plans are plagiarized, and extremely bad news for Mrs. Baker who learns her husband is a prisoner of war in Vietnam, Holling begins a romance with Meryl and joins the cross country team with Mrs. Baker as his coach--a choice that wins him his first kiss, delivered by Meryl, after winning one of his cross country meets--while the background of life is the assassination of Martin Luther King.
The spring of the year comes and Holling's father loses a big architectural contract to Meryl's father and his sister runs away to California because her father won't agree to her attending Columbia University. Sadly influenced by archaic principles, Holling's parents don't try to get her back but when she calls and confides that she is stuck in Minneapolis, Holling gets her the money she needs to get back home. June begins with the seventh grade class accompanying Mrs. Baker to meet her husband--who has been found--at the airport while the country mourns the death of Bobby Kennedy.