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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.

Topics: Christmas, Childhood, Holidays, Coming of Age, Friendship, Siblings, Family, Breezy, 1960s, Funny, First Person Narration, Realism, Connecticut, Small Town, and Novella

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061968167
List price: $9.99
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I enjoy Wally Lamb's writing and I really enjoy Christmas stories...put that together and what do you get?

Cute story about Annette Funnicello's fictional 3rd cousins...and nuns...and lay teachers...and living pictures. It's a cute story, I recommend it.more
Wally Lamb is not an author whose works I would ordinarily seek out. Having struggled through part of his big hit, She's Come Undone (my book club may have beaten Oprah to the punch on that one, more's the pity), I haven't been interested in pursuing what I saw as his blend of misery and 50s/60s pop culture references. But, looking for some Christmas reading on the cheap for my Kindle, I picked this up and was pleasantly surprised. No dysfunctional family here, although the people in it certainly have their quirks and flaws. They love and support each other and take pride in their work (running a small diner in a blue-collar Connecticut town). The young son of the family is the narrator -- he's concerned about his part in the school Christmas pageant and his mother's upcoming appearance in the Pillsbury Bake-Off. And did I mention that the family's claim to fame is that Annette Funicello is their cousin? All's well that ends well in this humorous and charming Christmas tale. Recommended -- if you're flying to see family next Christmas, it will take you away from the crowded airport and the cramped airplane seating to a simpler, and perhaps happier, place and time.more
I enjoyed the story, the characters and the wit laced through out the prose.more
A fun, light book. I'm guessing being catholic, and especially having attended catholic school (neither of which apply to me) would make it even more fun to read.more
A 1950's coming of age story about a boy in a Catholic school Christmas pageant. A humorous story that will have you laughing out loud.more
This book is being touted as a Christmas story but it’s more than just that. It’s about life for kids in a parochial school in the 1960s. There are tons of cultural references – if you grew up in the 60s, I think you’ll enjoy the trip down memory lane.The characters are familiar archetypes . Felix is a sweet, naive boy who is trying (and failing) to be as worldly as his best friend Lonny. Lonny is a tough kid, from a poor family. There’s also Rosalie, a snotty teacher’s pet who Felix despises. Then there are characters who are new and funny, like girl whose family has just moved to the small town from Russia. And the French Canadian replacement teacher who is just trying to put on a fancy Christmas show with the best of intentions.Wishin’ and Hopin’ is a cute and funny story. It’s great if you’re in the mood for a quick little holiday read.more
Thanks Amy! [Wishin' and Hopin'] was indeed a fun, light read. For those of you who haven't read Amy's review, it's the story of Felix Funicello, a 5th grader at St. Alysius Gonzaga Parochial School in Connecticut in the mid-1960's. He's a good student and rather naive but nevertheless he sometimes is a bit mischievous. The mix of characters in the class and at his parents' cafe in the local bus station create a good basis for some funny situations. I didn't laugh out loud but I did have a quiet giggle from time to time.more
This book was an enjoyable light read. Lamb tells the story of Felix Funicello, a fifth grader at a parochial school in the mid-1960s. Between his mother's trip to the Pillsbury Bake-off, his frequent run-ins with the nuns at school, the new Russian girl who joins his class, and the upcoming Christmas Pageant complete with live tableau, Felix's escapades kept me in stitches. This book reminds me a little of Richard Peck's A Long Way from Chicago.more
Very cute, short book about a young Italian boy, Felix Funicello, (he's a cousin of the FAMOUS Annette!) who is the 5th grade. It's 1962. and it's the holiday season, and the annual Nativity program is being planned and practiced with the students in his parochial school as the main characters. This fun book reminded me of my years at a Catholic School of about the same era. Funny, clever, a great choice for a holiday read aloud or book club for adults.more
I laughed out loud several times and especially at the end. Lamb captured the voice of the fifth grade narrator along with his world view. Read this book!more
Billed as a Christmas story, this is terrible. As a fictional memoir of a child, it's ok. The only thing really Christmasy about this book is the nativity scene. Otherwise, it's really just about kids and the way they related to each other a few decades ago. I wasn't impressed, found it to be a little boring.more
This book was just ok the concept was cute but the story didn’t really get entertaining till the last 25 pages or so, when the Christmas pageant started which you knew was going to go wrong but weren’t sure how. I don’t have much to say on this one not going to be a favorite Christmas book.2 ½ starsmore
This whimsical story reminded me of the movie A Christmas Story, but had the added benefit of being written by the wonderful Wally Lamb. For a reader of my age who was about the same age as the books Felix Funicello (distant cousin to dreamy Annette), the story brought back sweet memories of an innocent time.more
I found this as a cheap Kindle buy and knew I couldn't go wrong with a Wally Lamb book. I wanted a Christmas story and even though Christmas wasn't the focus of the whole story, it was still a fun read for this time of year. I especially liked how it was set in the 1960's and got a lot of laughs about things said and done during that time. This is a fun, light read and is great for any time of year, not just Christmas. I also appreciated how the author brought the disease of MS into the focus. With a family member recently diagnosed, I am aware of the devastating news this can bring.more
I did not attend a parochial school, but this book, written by Wally Lamb, gives me a glimpse of what it might have been like to have done so. It chronicles a couple of months in the first semester of fifth grade year for Felix Funicello, a cousin of the Annette of Mouseketeer fame. The joy in this novel is the way that ir chronicles everyday life for everyday people. From the Pillsbury bakeoff to local TV shows starring groups of kids to the school Christmas pageant, we get a glimpse of life in 1964. It's a wonderful, feel-good story about a much simpler time than the present-day. I was amused by the stories at the end of what became of the various players in the story.more
A short-ish, humorous novel about the life of a ten-year-old Catholic schoolboy in 1964. It's reasonably amusing, but pretty slight. The main character is an extremely believable and realistic ten-year-old boy, so credit to Wally Lamb for that, but I'm not sure it's entirely a good thing, since ten-year-old-boys are kind of obnoxious.I was hoping that this would help get me into the Christmas spirit -- goodness knows I could use some of that about now -- but I think calling it a Christmas story is a little bit misleading, as it starts before Halloween and doesn't really get to the Christmas stuff until more than halfway through the book.more
This book was 3.5 stars for me. I think it may have been a 4 star book that just wasn't quite what I was looking for.Felix just isn't my kind of kid, and while I could laugh at his hijinks, I never quite connected with him or any of the other characters in the book-- except maybe the teacher.If you enjoy stories featuring a mischievous (although well-intentioned) young boy, by all means check this one out. It's a fun romp.more
The interesting thing about Wally Lamb is that each of his books are very different from one another. In this one, he goes the humor route and again succeeds in writing another engaging story. Fans of the movie "A Christmas Story" will find lots of similarities in this tale. It reminded me a lot of that, as well as the children's book "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever", which I have vague memories of as a grade schooler. Though this book of Lamb's is subtitled A Christmas Story, it really can be enjoyed any time of the year and only toward the end is the Christmas season a really prominent part of the story. I found myself laughing out loud quite frequently.more
Unlike Wally Lamb's previous books, Wishin' and Hopin' actually was humorous. It is a short story about a boy growing up in the 1960's whose cousin is Annette Funicello. It expores the typical days of a boy who attends catholic school, helps his family's business and experiences life like most boys did back in the 60's.It was a quick and light read, perfect for the busy holiday season.more
Totally reminded me what it was like to go to Catholic grade school, even though I went in the late 80's early 90's instead of the 60's as recounted here.more
I have been a fan of Wally Lamb since I read his novel, She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True. He has a way of getting into the heads of his characters and bringing them to life. He tackles serious topics, steeped in emotion and morality. I knew going in that Wishin' and Hopin' was a different sort of novel for the author, but I still eagerly anticipated reading it.Although I have never seen the movie A Christmas Story straight through (I watched the movie out of order--second half first and then caught the first half another time), the book reminded me a lot of that movie. Set in 1964, Wishin' and Hopin' is the story of Felix Funicello. His father runs a diner at the bus station and Felix is the 3rd cousin of the famous Annette Funicello. He is in the fifth grade and attends a Catholic school. Felix is the second smartest in class but is by no means a goody two shoes like the number one student, Rosalie. He gets into his share of trouble, sometimes unintentionally.It's a big season for Felix and his family. His mother will be competing in a cooking contest on national television, he will be making an appearance on The Ranger Andy Ranger Show, and the school term promises to be an interesting one with the long-term substitute taking over his class after his regular teacher has a nervous breakdown (helped along by Felix himself).Told from Felix's point of view, it was hard not to imagine being right back in the fifth grade again, a time between innocence and learning about the world. The characters are easy to love, especially young Felix. The author captures well the time period in which his story takes place, from the political and racial climate to the memorable pop culture--even for those of us born after that time.I started singing Annette Funicello's Tall Paul right alongside Felix as I read in the lunchroom at work one afternoon. And then I couldn't help but do the same when Felix described his Halloween costume, dressed up as an Alka Selzter. I've been driving my husband batty with that jingle for years. Wishin' and Hopin' is a delightful story. Author Wally Lamb shows off his lighter side in this novel. It is funny and at times sentimental, but never overly so. It's a great book to kick off the holiday season.more
Cute and funny little story about a fifth grade boy in the 1960's. Reminded me a lot of the movie "The Christmas Story".more
This book was a delight to read and out loud funny at times. I am never disappointed when I read a Wally Lamb book and this was no exception. The book is a heartwarming slice of life from an time when Lyndon Johnson was President and The Beatles were all the rage. It's a perfect book for the holidays and if your a Wally Lamb fan, a must read for your library.more
Welcome to the early 1960's and the life of Felix Funicello, third cousin to the Mickey Mouseketeer Annette. This is a delightful walk down memory lane when antennas perched on roofs brought black and white tv reception into houses of hard working parents who raised their children with firm rules and a swat on the backside when needed.Harken back to The Beatles, JFK, LBJ, lunch counters that served cheeseburgers and cherry cokes, schools that contained Catholic nuns who were free with the smart smack of a ruler and Priests who drank just a little too much confessional wine.This is a laugh-out-loud snap shot of a small town containing a host of likable characters. Felix leans a convoluted perception of the birds and the bees via jokes that he doesn't understand, while goody two-shoes Rosalie Twerski brown noses the nuns, bosses the classmates and needles her way into the role of Virgin Mary in the school play.Cold War paranoia abounds when a new, feisty, no-nonsense Russian student navigates her way into the fifth grade environment of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School.There were instances when I thought the author made his point and then, like a bad comedian, didn't know when to end the joke. Still, I liked the book and recommend it to those who, like me, were born in the 1950's and experienced America's progression into the 1960's.more
I have to say I was a little disappointed with this book. After reading 'This much I know is true' and 'She's come undone' I was expecting another fantastic page turner but this book didn't deliver. It's mostly just a memoir of a young boy in the 1960s and his school days. There are some funny lines and I managed to get through the whole thing, but it just wasn't up to Wally Lamb's abilities.I recommend skipping this one.more
This was my first Christmas themed read for the year, and Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb was a delight. Starting in the fall of 1964 and closing out on the night of the school’s Christmas concert, the book tells the hilarious and heart-warming story through Felix Funicello, a 10 year old Grade 5 school boy.This book was a vivid trip down memory lane for me, and I enjoyed the story for each of it’s priceless moments. But it’s also more than a nostalgic look-back, the characters are complete and endearing, and the story makes me smile just to think about it. This book could have so easily have been too sugary and precious, but the author kept it real with humor and straight forward, simple writing. From beehive hairdo’s, American Bandstand and Annette Funicello, the author captures the essence of the early 1960’s effortlessly.If you are looking for a light, enjoyable story I would suggest that Wishin’ And Hopin’ makes a very good Christmas read.more
great book! I just wish it were longer. I laughed out loud in places! I am a Wally Lamb fan, the only negative I have is that it wasn't longer!more
Reason for Reading: Every December I drop whatever reading I'm supposed to be doing and read a Christmas book. The paperback of this came out just recently and the advertising made me choose to read it.I quite enjoyed this nostalgic look back at a year in the 1960's life of a 10 year-old Catholic school boy. The narrator takes us back to that fifth grade year and reminisces about his family and especially his friends and days at the parochial school. Obviously, I'm always attracted to a book with a Catholic theme (I'm Catholic) and I enjoyed the portrayal which allows Catholics to laugh at themselves and also to see the differences in communication between the religious and the lay from then to now. Felix Funicello, the narrator, is a third cousin to the famous Annette and he regales us with the shenanigans that he and his friend got up to at school and out of school, the various personalities in the classroom especially the stuck-up smartest girl in the class, the new Russian girl who arrives after classes have started (is she a Communist spy?) and the stories of his family including his mother's TV appearance on the Pillsbury Dough Bake-Off Competition. I found the stories nostalgic, amusing and fun, though not funny. I didn't laugh out loud.I was quite shocked by the vulgarity of the language that starts very soon into the book. It is not ever present but is quite frequent and not what I had expected to find. Once the shock of 10 year olds being so vulgar was over, it actually didn't bother me that much. But if swearing, dirty jokes and crude references to s*xual acts offends thee, this is not the book for you. The other thing I did not like at all was the Epilogue! It kind of ruined the whole good feelings I had about the book after I read it. It's one of those summaries that tells you where each character is now, or what happened to them. It was quite depressing to read the future lives of these characters, especially the children. I didn't see the point of it. But on a positive note the book ended with Annette Funicello's current situation and how you can make donations to MS Society.Overall, an enjoyable book. I'm glad I read it but not quite what I thought it would be. I certainly enjoyed the writing style and never having read Lamb before am interested in reading another of his works.more
I really wasn't sure how this book would go, as I had two completely different expectations from it. I thought either it would be sappy and sweet, or it would be a book that had me laughing my butt off. Wishin' and Hopin' definitely fulfilled the latter expectation and then some.Think.. A Christmas Story mixed with the Frank's story of growing up in Catholic Ireland. While Felix, the ten-year-old who is telling his own story, doesn't live in Ireland, he does live in the fantastic world of 1964 US of A - a world where Beetles, Beehive hair-do's, Bandstand, Catholic Schools and Annette Funicello reign.There are so many priceless moments in this book, and I don't want to ruin them all for you, but I have to say that one of my favorite moments was an appearance made on television (which, according to the epilogue, was based on a real-life moment). I seriously laughed until I cried and everything was written so well I could visualize it happening as I read about it. I wasn't alive during the 1960's, so this story wasn't a trip down memory lane for me. But I've seen enough movies, read enough stories and talked to my folks about the 60's enough to feel a connection with Felix's story and to appreciate it for what it was - a funny, insightful, nostalgic look at the world through the eyes of a 10 year old. And while things have changed today and classrooms have become completely different, there are still ten year olds out there experiencing the same wonder and living in the same innocence that Felix lived and experienced. That's what made this book such a beautiful start to the Christmas season, reading-wise for me. An innocent, heart-warming story filled with charm, family and life.more
Read all 45 reviews

Reviews

I enjoy Wally Lamb's writing and I really enjoy Christmas stories...put that together and what do you get?

Cute story about Annette Funnicello's fictional 3rd cousins...and nuns...and lay teachers...and living pictures. It's a cute story, I recommend it.more
Wally Lamb is not an author whose works I would ordinarily seek out. Having struggled through part of his big hit, She's Come Undone (my book club may have beaten Oprah to the punch on that one, more's the pity), I haven't been interested in pursuing what I saw as his blend of misery and 50s/60s pop culture references. But, looking for some Christmas reading on the cheap for my Kindle, I picked this up and was pleasantly surprised. No dysfunctional family here, although the people in it certainly have their quirks and flaws. They love and support each other and take pride in their work (running a small diner in a blue-collar Connecticut town). The young son of the family is the narrator -- he's concerned about his part in the school Christmas pageant and his mother's upcoming appearance in the Pillsbury Bake-Off. And did I mention that the family's claim to fame is that Annette Funicello is their cousin? All's well that ends well in this humorous and charming Christmas tale. Recommended -- if you're flying to see family next Christmas, it will take you away from the crowded airport and the cramped airplane seating to a simpler, and perhaps happier, place and time.more
I enjoyed the story, the characters and the wit laced through out the prose.more
A fun, light book. I'm guessing being catholic, and especially having attended catholic school (neither of which apply to me) would make it even more fun to read.more
A 1950's coming of age story about a boy in a Catholic school Christmas pageant. A humorous story that will have you laughing out loud.more
This book is being touted as a Christmas story but it’s more than just that. It’s about life for kids in a parochial school in the 1960s. There are tons of cultural references – if you grew up in the 60s, I think you’ll enjoy the trip down memory lane.The characters are familiar archetypes . Felix is a sweet, naive boy who is trying (and failing) to be as worldly as his best friend Lonny. Lonny is a tough kid, from a poor family. There’s also Rosalie, a snotty teacher’s pet who Felix despises. Then there are characters who are new and funny, like girl whose family has just moved to the small town from Russia. And the French Canadian replacement teacher who is just trying to put on a fancy Christmas show with the best of intentions.Wishin’ and Hopin’ is a cute and funny story. It’s great if you’re in the mood for a quick little holiday read.more
Thanks Amy! [Wishin' and Hopin'] was indeed a fun, light read. For those of you who haven't read Amy's review, it's the story of Felix Funicello, a 5th grader at St. Alysius Gonzaga Parochial School in Connecticut in the mid-1960's. He's a good student and rather naive but nevertheless he sometimes is a bit mischievous. The mix of characters in the class and at his parents' cafe in the local bus station create a good basis for some funny situations. I didn't laugh out loud but I did have a quiet giggle from time to time.more
This book was an enjoyable light read. Lamb tells the story of Felix Funicello, a fifth grader at a parochial school in the mid-1960s. Between his mother's trip to the Pillsbury Bake-off, his frequent run-ins with the nuns at school, the new Russian girl who joins his class, and the upcoming Christmas Pageant complete with live tableau, Felix's escapades kept me in stitches. This book reminds me a little of Richard Peck's A Long Way from Chicago.more
Very cute, short book about a young Italian boy, Felix Funicello, (he's a cousin of the FAMOUS Annette!) who is the 5th grade. It's 1962. and it's the holiday season, and the annual Nativity program is being planned and practiced with the students in his parochial school as the main characters. This fun book reminded me of my years at a Catholic School of about the same era. Funny, clever, a great choice for a holiday read aloud or book club for adults.more
I laughed out loud several times and especially at the end. Lamb captured the voice of the fifth grade narrator along with his world view. Read this book!more
Billed as a Christmas story, this is terrible. As a fictional memoir of a child, it's ok. The only thing really Christmasy about this book is the nativity scene. Otherwise, it's really just about kids and the way they related to each other a few decades ago. I wasn't impressed, found it to be a little boring.more
This book was just ok the concept was cute but the story didn’t really get entertaining till the last 25 pages or so, when the Christmas pageant started which you knew was going to go wrong but weren’t sure how. I don’t have much to say on this one not going to be a favorite Christmas book.2 ½ starsmore
This whimsical story reminded me of the movie A Christmas Story, but had the added benefit of being written by the wonderful Wally Lamb. For a reader of my age who was about the same age as the books Felix Funicello (distant cousin to dreamy Annette), the story brought back sweet memories of an innocent time.more
I found this as a cheap Kindle buy and knew I couldn't go wrong with a Wally Lamb book. I wanted a Christmas story and even though Christmas wasn't the focus of the whole story, it was still a fun read for this time of year. I especially liked how it was set in the 1960's and got a lot of laughs about things said and done during that time. This is a fun, light read and is great for any time of year, not just Christmas. I also appreciated how the author brought the disease of MS into the focus. With a family member recently diagnosed, I am aware of the devastating news this can bring.more
I did not attend a parochial school, but this book, written by Wally Lamb, gives me a glimpse of what it might have been like to have done so. It chronicles a couple of months in the first semester of fifth grade year for Felix Funicello, a cousin of the Annette of Mouseketeer fame. The joy in this novel is the way that ir chronicles everyday life for everyday people. From the Pillsbury bakeoff to local TV shows starring groups of kids to the school Christmas pageant, we get a glimpse of life in 1964. It's a wonderful, feel-good story about a much simpler time than the present-day. I was amused by the stories at the end of what became of the various players in the story.more
A short-ish, humorous novel about the life of a ten-year-old Catholic schoolboy in 1964. It's reasonably amusing, but pretty slight. The main character is an extremely believable and realistic ten-year-old boy, so credit to Wally Lamb for that, but I'm not sure it's entirely a good thing, since ten-year-old-boys are kind of obnoxious.I was hoping that this would help get me into the Christmas spirit -- goodness knows I could use some of that about now -- but I think calling it a Christmas story is a little bit misleading, as it starts before Halloween and doesn't really get to the Christmas stuff until more than halfway through the book.more
This book was 3.5 stars for me. I think it may have been a 4 star book that just wasn't quite what I was looking for.Felix just isn't my kind of kid, and while I could laugh at his hijinks, I never quite connected with him or any of the other characters in the book-- except maybe the teacher.If you enjoy stories featuring a mischievous (although well-intentioned) young boy, by all means check this one out. It's a fun romp.more
The interesting thing about Wally Lamb is that each of his books are very different from one another. In this one, he goes the humor route and again succeeds in writing another engaging story. Fans of the movie "A Christmas Story" will find lots of similarities in this tale. It reminded me a lot of that, as well as the children's book "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever", which I have vague memories of as a grade schooler. Though this book of Lamb's is subtitled A Christmas Story, it really can be enjoyed any time of the year and only toward the end is the Christmas season a really prominent part of the story. I found myself laughing out loud quite frequently.more
Unlike Wally Lamb's previous books, Wishin' and Hopin' actually was humorous. It is a short story about a boy growing up in the 1960's whose cousin is Annette Funicello. It expores the typical days of a boy who attends catholic school, helps his family's business and experiences life like most boys did back in the 60's.It was a quick and light read, perfect for the busy holiday season.more
Totally reminded me what it was like to go to Catholic grade school, even though I went in the late 80's early 90's instead of the 60's as recounted here.more
I have been a fan of Wally Lamb since I read his novel, She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True. He has a way of getting into the heads of his characters and bringing them to life. He tackles serious topics, steeped in emotion and morality. I knew going in that Wishin' and Hopin' was a different sort of novel for the author, but I still eagerly anticipated reading it.Although I have never seen the movie A Christmas Story straight through (I watched the movie out of order--second half first and then caught the first half another time), the book reminded me a lot of that movie. Set in 1964, Wishin' and Hopin' is the story of Felix Funicello. His father runs a diner at the bus station and Felix is the 3rd cousin of the famous Annette Funicello. He is in the fifth grade and attends a Catholic school. Felix is the second smartest in class but is by no means a goody two shoes like the number one student, Rosalie. He gets into his share of trouble, sometimes unintentionally.It's a big season for Felix and his family. His mother will be competing in a cooking contest on national television, he will be making an appearance on The Ranger Andy Ranger Show, and the school term promises to be an interesting one with the long-term substitute taking over his class after his regular teacher has a nervous breakdown (helped along by Felix himself).Told from Felix's point of view, it was hard not to imagine being right back in the fifth grade again, a time between innocence and learning about the world. The characters are easy to love, especially young Felix. The author captures well the time period in which his story takes place, from the political and racial climate to the memorable pop culture--even for those of us born after that time.I started singing Annette Funicello's Tall Paul right alongside Felix as I read in the lunchroom at work one afternoon. And then I couldn't help but do the same when Felix described his Halloween costume, dressed up as an Alka Selzter. I've been driving my husband batty with that jingle for years. Wishin' and Hopin' is a delightful story. Author Wally Lamb shows off his lighter side in this novel. It is funny and at times sentimental, but never overly so. It's a great book to kick off the holiday season.more
Cute and funny little story about a fifth grade boy in the 1960's. Reminded me a lot of the movie "The Christmas Story".more
This book was a delight to read and out loud funny at times. I am never disappointed when I read a Wally Lamb book and this was no exception. The book is a heartwarming slice of life from an time when Lyndon Johnson was President and The Beatles were all the rage. It's a perfect book for the holidays and if your a Wally Lamb fan, a must read for your library.more
Welcome to the early 1960's and the life of Felix Funicello, third cousin to the Mickey Mouseketeer Annette. This is a delightful walk down memory lane when antennas perched on roofs brought black and white tv reception into houses of hard working parents who raised their children with firm rules and a swat on the backside when needed.Harken back to The Beatles, JFK, LBJ, lunch counters that served cheeseburgers and cherry cokes, schools that contained Catholic nuns who were free with the smart smack of a ruler and Priests who drank just a little too much confessional wine.This is a laugh-out-loud snap shot of a small town containing a host of likable characters. Felix leans a convoluted perception of the birds and the bees via jokes that he doesn't understand, while goody two-shoes Rosalie Twerski brown noses the nuns, bosses the classmates and needles her way into the role of Virgin Mary in the school play.Cold War paranoia abounds when a new, feisty, no-nonsense Russian student navigates her way into the fifth grade environment of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School.There were instances when I thought the author made his point and then, like a bad comedian, didn't know when to end the joke. Still, I liked the book and recommend it to those who, like me, were born in the 1950's and experienced America's progression into the 1960's.more
I have to say I was a little disappointed with this book. After reading 'This much I know is true' and 'She's come undone' I was expecting another fantastic page turner but this book didn't deliver. It's mostly just a memoir of a young boy in the 1960s and his school days. There are some funny lines and I managed to get through the whole thing, but it just wasn't up to Wally Lamb's abilities.I recommend skipping this one.more
This was my first Christmas themed read for the year, and Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb was a delight. Starting in the fall of 1964 and closing out on the night of the school’s Christmas concert, the book tells the hilarious and heart-warming story through Felix Funicello, a 10 year old Grade 5 school boy.This book was a vivid trip down memory lane for me, and I enjoyed the story for each of it’s priceless moments. But it’s also more than a nostalgic look-back, the characters are complete and endearing, and the story makes me smile just to think about it. This book could have so easily have been too sugary and precious, but the author kept it real with humor and straight forward, simple writing. From beehive hairdo’s, American Bandstand and Annette Funicello, the author captures the essence of the early 1960’s effortlessly.If you are looking for a light, enjoyable story I would suggest that Wishin’ And Hopin’ makes a very good Christmas read.more
great book! I just wish it were longer. I laughed out loud in places! I am a Wally Lamb fan, the only negative I have is that it wasn't longer!more
Reason for Reading: Every December I drop whatever reading I'm supposed to be doing and read a Christmas book. The paperback of this came out just recently and the advertising made me choose to read it.I quite enjoyed this nostalgic look back at a year in the 1960's life of a 10 year-old Catholic school boy. The narrator takes us back to that fifth grade year and reminisces about his family and especially his friends and days at the parochial school. Obviously, I'm always attracted to a book with a Catholic theme (I'm Catholic) and I enjoyed the portrayal which allows Catholics to laugh at themselves and also to see the differences in communication between the religious and the lay from then to now. Felix Funicello, the narrator, is a third cousin to the famous Annette and he regales us with the shenanigans that he and his friend got up to at school and out of school, the various personalities in the classroom especially the stuck-up smartest girl in the class, the new Russian girl who arrives after classes have started (is she a Communist spy?) and the stories of his family including his mother's TV appearance on the Pillsbury Dough Bake-Off Competition. I found the stories nostalgic, amusing and fun, though not funny. I didn't laugh out loud.I was quite shocked by the vulgarity of the language that starts very soon into the book. It is not ever present but is quite frequent and not what I had expected to find. Once the shock of 10 year olds being so vulgar was over, it actually didn't bother me that much. But if swearing, dirty jokes and crude references to s*xual acts offends thee, this is not the book for you. The other thing I did not like at all was the Epilogue! It kind of ruined the whole good feelings I had about the book after I read it. It's one of those summaries that tells you where each character is now, or what happened to them. It was quite depressing to read the future lives of these characters, especially the children. I didn't see the point of it. But on a positive note the book ended with Annette Funicello's current situation and how you can make donations to MS Society.Overall, an enjoyable book. I'm glad I read it but not quite what I thought it would be. I certainly enjoyed the writing style and never having read Lamb before am interested in reading another of his works.more
I really wasn't sure how this book would go, as I had two completely different expectations from it. I thought either it would be sappy and sweet, or it would be a book that had me laughing my butt off. Wishin' and Hopin' definitely fulfilled the latter expectation and then some.Think.. A Christmas Story mixed with the Frank's story of growing up in Catholic Ireland. While Felix, the ten-year-old who is telling his own story, doesn't live in Ireland, he does live in the fantastic world of 1964 US of A - a world where Beetles, Beehive hair-do's, Bandstand, Catholic Schools and Annette Funicello reign.There are so many priceless moments in this book, and I don't want to ruin them all for you, but I have to say that one of my favorite moments was an appearance made on television (which, according to the epilogue, was based on a real-life moment). I seriously laughed until I cried and everything was written so well I could visualize it happening as I read about it. I wasn't alive during the 1960's, so this story wasn't a trip down memory lane for me. But I've seen enough movies, read enough stories and talked to my folks about the 60's enough to feel a connection with Felix's story and to appreciate it for what it was - a funny, insightful, nostalgic look at the world through the eyes of a 10 year old. And while things have changed today and classrooms have become completely different, there are still ten year olds out there experiencing the same wonder and living in the same innocence that Felix lived and experienced. That's what made this book such a beautiful start to the Christmas season, reading-wise for me. An innocent, heart-warming story filled with charm, family and life.more
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