I’m not sure how I feel about Jerry Spinelli as an author. Some things I like, Stargirl for example, and some are a bit too weird, like Hokey Pokey. Dead Wednesday has a bit of both, although it feels more like Stargirl. I do have some lingering questions that I know will never be answered, though.
Dead Wednesday is an interesting concept. The overall idea is that for one day, every eighth grader gets the name of a teenager who died during the past year of preventable causes, like car crashes or drinking or drugs. The students go into school, get the name and short bio of their dead teen for the day and don a black shirt. For the rest of the day, they are dead to everyone else. No one else will look at them, talk to them, acknowledge their presence. The students are supposed to see what it would be like to walk through a world that doesn’t see them because they aren’t really there anymore. Kids take advantage of course, because you can’t get in trouble if you’re dead. But some students actually learn the lesson they’re meant to.
Our protagonist, Worm, has a different experience than we’re assuming most students have. His dead teenager is not just a picture on a card. She is actually there with him, or her ghost is. He spends the day with her, learning about her and doing things he wouldn’t normally do. And there are multiple questions that are never asked, the main one being “Why?” But like the characters in the book, that remains unanswered, at least with any concrete answer. And that’s ok.