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Wishin' and Hopin': A Novel Paperback – November 2, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 734 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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

In Wally Lamb’s pitch perfect new novel,it is 1964. LBJ and Lady Bird are in theWhite House, Meet the Beatles is on everyone’sturntable, and ten-year-old Felix Funicello(distant cousin of the iconic Annette!) is doinghis best to navigate fifth grade—easier said thandone when scary movies still give you nightmaresand you bear a striking resemblance to a certainadorable cartoon boy. But there are several thingsyoung Felix can depend on: the birds and beesare puzzling, television is magical, and this is oneChristmas he’s never going to forget.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (November 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061941018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061941016
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (734 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bill Petillo on November 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wally Lamb's earlier novels "She's Come Undone", "I Know This Much Is True" and "The Hour I First Believed" are long serious works that are among the best of the last decade. This Holiday reminiscence is a delightful departure. If you were a child in the 60's you will relive a flood of fond memories. In that sense the book reminds me of Jean Shepherd's writing that was made into the movie "A Christmas Story." You will be transported back to a simpler time and see the holiday season through the eyes of a 5th grader dealing with parochial school, awakening sexuality, friends, enemies and family. The story is told with great humor and warmth. Happy holidays!
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Format: Hardcover
It must be an age thing but the older I get the more nostalgic I become and the more books like Wally Lamb's Wishin' and Hopin': A Christmas Story appeal to me.

This little saga takes the reader back to the 60's when kids were really kids (and not little zombies tied by the "electronic umbilical cord" to either, their cell phone, computer, or i-pod). They went to school, were fearful of their teachers (instead of visa-versa), had no "rights" (except to learn the assigned classroom material) and actually came away from the experience with some knowledge of the "3 R's".

We follow Felix Funicello, a wide-eyed 10 year old boy and cousin of Annette, as he experiences the trepidation and wonder of a Catholic school education, the competitive harassment of a "tattle-tale" teachers pet, the deliciously terrifying ordeal of sitting through Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte (the Bette Davis follow up to "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane) and trying not to show his fright, his mom competing in the Pillsbury Bake off hosted by non other than Ronald Reagan, the annual school pageant and a plethora of other every day happenings that most of us of "a certain age" can fondly recall.

I notice that a few reviewers felt the story was a bore. Perhaps this delightful trip down memory lane had to be experienced first hand in order to be appreciated. What we felt were mortifying situations in our youth suddenly become amusing anecdotes as we grow older and lines like, "her mouth dropped open like a glove compartment door with a broken latch" present a visual that many of us who owned "vintage" used cars can relate to. Although a complete departure from the tone and subject matter of his other works, Wally Lambs recounting of Felix's life lessons is nevertheless a heartwarming and amusing diversion and well worth the few hours of your time it takes to read. 3 1/2 stars
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read books a lot. Before I got the Kindle I had tons of books hanging around each room. I always read the reviews before I buy them, so thank you reviewers. This is my very first review, and only because there weren't any others on Wishin' and Hopin'

There has never been a time,when I wasn't first in line to get the new Wally Lamb book, after I read "She's come Undone". In fact I have bought more of "She's come Undone" to give away, that he and Mrs. Lamb may have enjoyed more than one meal out.

A Wishin' and Hopin' brought me back to 1965 when I lived in New London,CT. I waited at the Bus stop every afternoon to get a bus to see my new husband who was serving in the US Coast Guard in Groton. In "She's came undone", I was that little girl that grew up a fat girl. I had the same kind of father, only I lived in Brooklyn.

In Wishin' and Hopin' I again visited my youth in a RC Catholic grammar school. I had the same classmates, only my father made my Angel wings for the Christmas play. This book was a clear departure from his much longer novels. This one made me laugh long into the night. When Felix became the star to Christmas Show, I could not stop seeing him and his feet.

The Funicello family was as warm as any family should be. A welcome from the often dysfunctional families in his other books. Having a mom go on the TV with Art Linkletter, was great, but the trip to Hartford that Felix took the cake. His sister's were what every little boy didn't want, but needed.

Buy this book for old teachers, priest, schoolmates and past friends. It will light up their faces for Christmas. And I was never a goody-two-shoes more feisty like the new Russian student
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wally Lamb is one of very few authors that I will read everything he writes. His fourth novel is greatly different from the previous three, but is another solid effort by this great author. Narrated by ten year old Felix, the story is simple, but never boring. There were plenty of cultural references, but easily understood even if the 60s were not your generation. Many of Felix's antics were so clearly written that I have to wonder if Mr. Lamb was largely writing an autobiography. I especially liked the epilogue at the end, where the reader finds out what happened to each of the characters in the future. It provided a solid ending to the story that was just a short slice of life.

The story can be read in a few hours. Light a fire, make a mug of hot chocolate and settle in for an enjoyable afternoon of nostalgia and laugh out loud antics. Who else would ever write a story that includes hitting a bat with a bb pellet in the classroom?

My only complaint was that it was published with green ink. I understand it's a Christmas story, but I would have preferred black ink. If that's my biggest gripe, I can deal with it.

Great job Mr. Lamb. I look forward to the next!

Side note: I was fortunate to attend a book reading and signing last year and I could easily imagine Mr. Lamb reading the story out loud to his readers. If you ever have the chance to attend one of his signings, do it!
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