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Wishin' and Hopin': A Christmas Story Hardcover – November 10, 2009
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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“In the hands of Wally Lamb, what emerges isn’t an apology but a celebration of life...Felix makes a hilarious guide through a story that whirs right along.” (Washington Post)
“Lamb’s rich panoply of details...render this novel first-rate escapism just begging for a comforter and a cup of tea.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
“Warmly, sweetly retro” (Kansas City Star)
“Lamb gets Felix’s voice just right, and he does a spot-on job of evoking the special joys and trials of parochial school in the ‘60’s” (St. Petersburg Times)
“Lamb’s vividly detailed portrait of the 1960’s and the inner workings of a Catholic schoolboy’s mind puts his first Christmas book on par with his previous three novels.” (Miami Herald)
“Lamb...proves he can be short, sweet and funny” (USA Today)
“Wishin’ and Hopin’ from Wally Lamb reminds us of what innocence was like.” (Body and Soul)
“Both heartwarming and laugh-out-loud funny…a cast of characters that are both uproarious and unforgettable…a poignant reminder that family and friends are the greatest gift of all.” (Hartford Books Examiner)
We might as well call Wally Lamb the man with the golden pen...[Wishin’ and Hopin’] will leave you laughing and thinking nostalgically about your own school days and holidays past” (BookPage)
“Lamb is a very good writer, and Wishin’ and Hopin’ is a charming read with a genuinely funny ending.” (Houston Chronicle)
“Humorous and heartwarming…clever and well-written…A fun trip down memory lane from a skilled writer. The stocking stuffer might just become a cherished possession.” (Columbus Dispatch)
“Charming…. Full of pop-culture references of the day…this will have broad appeal.” (Library Journal)
From the Back Cover
With his latest story, WISHIN′ AND HOPIN′, Wally Lamb takes a turn toward the lighthearted and laugh-provoking. In a vein similar to Jean Shepherd′s A Christmas Story and David Sedaris′s The Santaland Diaries, Lamb′s holiday tale focuses on a feisty parochial school fifth grader named Felix Funicello--a distant cousin of the iconic Annette! Both poignant and hilarious, WISHIN′ AND HOPIN′ transports us back to October, November, and December of 1964, when LBJ and Lady Bird were in the White House, Meet the Beatles was on everyone′s turntables, and Christmas meant mistletoe, mangers, and midnight mass. Then it propels us from the past to the present so that we might measure what we′ve gained and what we′ve lost.
Top customer reviews
Felix Funicello, distant cousin to the famous Annette, is in 5th Grade and his coming of age story had me laughing out loud as I read this delightful book. Read it, enjoy it and see how this brilliant author of big books about heavy, difficult times in the lives of his characters, can write a happy, life affirming story about a group of children on the brink of adolescence.
Within the first few passages of the first chapter, the novel is a blast from the past for Felix as he recalls Sister Dymphna, classmates Zhenya Kabakova and Rosalie Elaine Twerski, as well as other memorable individuals in his life. One may say, the day in the life of Felix that is similar to another Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd. However, 20 years or so in the future to the mid-1960s where television and music and material goods were all the rage that children clung to rather than the radio and movies; regardless, each story were not forgotten but retold with immense detail. And one of the most interesting parts of the book is the symbolic element that Lamb plays out in the chapter “Drama,” which most Christmas stories tend to possess surrounding the season, the Christmas pageant that St. Aloysius Gonzaga presented to remind the children what Christmas really means. Students in the class Ernie, Geraldine, and Marion and Rosalie performed and narrated as Felix exerts Rosalie’s stupid play “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” This part of the book adds more humorous moments in the story in a tongue-in-cheek style, especially the concluding lines of the play read by Saint Martin Porres played by Marion.
In essence, Wishin’ and Hopin’ is a delightful read during the Christmas season.
Wishin’ and Hopin’ grabs the reader from the opening sentences. “The year I was a fifth-grade student at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School, our teacher, Sister Dymphna, had a nervous breakdown in front of our class. To this day I can hear Sister’s screams and see her flailing attempts to shoo away the circling Prince of Darkness.” And that’s just the beginning. The year is 1965 and Felix is ten years old. Once sister has her breakdown, the school brings in a lay teacher, Madame Frechette from Quebec. It would be hard to determine who tortures Felix the most—his two older sisters, Rosalie Twerski (the obnoxious class know-it-all and Felix’s main competition), the nuns at St. Gonzaga, or the guys who work at his parents’ bus depot deli counter. Felix also tries to learn about the birds and the bees, although his naivety gets him in trouble. But the funniest part of Wishin’ and Hopin’ is the section where Madame Frechette stages Christmas tableaux vivants, using her class to play assorted roles in the Christmas story. It was pretty outrageous and downright funny! Think A Christmas Story but with a little more sauciness.
Lamb’s writing is always good, and his descriptions and observations ring true. Felix hears a conversation about wet dreams. “I still didn’t get it, but at least now I realized we were in the birds-and-the-bees ballpark. My ignorance was Pop’s fault, of course. All’s he’d told me about sex was that stuff about drinking fountains. If I was ever going to figure it all out, I’d just have to listen harder on the school bus—be Sherlock Holmes, kind of.” He was also spot-on about the nuns’ “Gestapo reign of terror.” I had a couple of those in Sunday School.
There were a few things that made Wishin’ and Hopin’ especially enjoyable to me. I was also a 10-year old 5th grade student in 1965, although I did not attend a Catholic school. I can relate to many of Felix’s experiences. Also, Lamb admitted in his author talk that out of all his fictional characters, Felix Funicello is the one who most resembles Lamb.
I saw that this has been made into a television movie and I hope it is as funny as the book. Maybe I’ll save it for next Christmas season.