The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
Holling Hoodhood has just started seventh grade, but he knows he's in for a rough year. Every Wednesday, while half his classmates go to catechism and half his classmates go to Hebrew school, Holling spends the afternoon facing off against his teacher, Mrs. Baker. She is clearly out to get him - why else would she make him read Shakespeare?
On top of the Wednesday wars, Holling can't even complain to his family. His dad's architectural firm is one of the finalists to build a new Baker Sporting Emporium, so Holling has to be on his best behavior with Mrs. Baker. Not to mention that his classmates are threatening him unless he brings them cream puffs, his sister wants to be a flower child hippie, and the class rats Caliban and Sycorax are loose in the school.
Holling's year does get off to bad start, but the book is about growing up and learning how to handle life as a good person. It includes lots of usual middle school events like trying out for sports teams and going on first dates. What helps to make this story so interesting is the background of the Vietnam War and the subtle ways it affects the characters' daily lives.
Overall, this was a really interesting book with a lot of different themes. I'd love to hear what your favorite parts were!