Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wishin' and Hopin' - Wally Lamb

Summary: It's 1964 and ten-year-old Felix is sure of a few things: the birds and the bees are puzzling, television is magical, and this is one Christmas he'll never forget.

LBJ and Lady Bird are in the White House, Meet the Beatles is on everyone's turntable, and Felix Funicello (distant cousin of the iconic Annette!) is doing his best to navigate fifth grade—easier said than done when scary movies still give you nightmares and you bear a striking resemblance to a certain adorable cartoon boy.

Back in his beloved fictional town of Three Rivers, Connecticut, with a new cast of endearing characters, Wally Lamb takes his readers straight into the halls of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School—where Mother Filomina's word is law and goody-two-shoes Rosalie Twerski is sure to be minding everyone's business. But grammar and arithmetic move to the back burner this holiday season with the sudden arrivals of substitute teacher Madame Frechette, straight from Québec, and feisty Russian student Zhenya Kabakova. While Felix learns the meaning of French kissing, cultural misunderstanding, and tableaux vivants, Wishin' and Hopin' barrels toward one outrageous Christmas.

From the Funicello family's bus-station lunch counter to the elementary school playground (with an uproarious stop at the Pillsbury Bake-Off), Wishin' and Hopin' is a vivid slice of 1960s life, a wise and witty holiday tale that celebrates where we've been—and how far we've come.
Summary from book, cover photo from

My Review: Ten-year-old Felix Funicello leads a fairly normal life, with the expectation that his cousin (whom he has never met) is the famous Annette Funicello - think original Mickey Mouse club. Growing up the youngest child with two older sisters he is taunted on a regular basis. His parents love him and each other. Felix attends a catholic school and this story takes place in the months leading up to his school's Christmas program.

Set during the sixties at a time when Felix is attempting to navigate girls while still being quite confused with the birds and the bees, this tale is sure to bring a smile. Befriended by the outspoken older boy and the new Russian student this story is filled with true to life scenarios. The combination of innocent confusion leading to embarrassing moments brings a comical aspect to the book.

In true Wally Lamb fashion, the characters within this story are well-developed, easy to relate to and likable. Within these pages you'll encounter the know-it-all goody two-shoes, the class clown, the trouble making twins, and the older kid who provides a little too much information (some misinformed) to his younger classmates. We all attended school with similar characters. However the story differs from Lamb's other novels as it is much lighter. You won't find any difficult, thought-provoking situations in this tale. This is a totally enjoyable, upbeat book making it the perfect Christmas read.

My Rating: 4 Stars

To sum it up in one phrase: A heartwarming, sweet, and utterly delightful Christmas read.

1 comment:

Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

My husband got this for Christmas...I think I will read it first!


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