Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Wishin' and Hopin': A Novel
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on November 15, 2009
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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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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on November 14, 2009
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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on November 14, 2009
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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on December 17, 2009
Don't read this book at work. People will wonder why you are sitting there laughing all by yourself. It takes a lot for a movie or a book to make me laugh. So much humor these days is just mean spirited or stupid. However, with this book, you are laughing at yourself as much as the character's in the book. It reminds you of all the funny and not so funny moments in your youth.
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VINE VOICEon December 19, 2014
Author Wally Lamb and Wishin’ and Hopin’: A Christmas Story takes the reader back to December 1964 during a pinnacle time in history but through the eyes of 10 year-old Felix Funicello many perceptions arise as a 5th grader at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School. The novel is set around the Christmas holidays but beyond Felix’s and his classmates’ minds of the gifts that they await from Santa Claus, a greater symbolic meaning resonates. For baby boomers, the numerous references of popular culture weaves within every chapter of the book that paints an extremely vivid and detailed memory of Felix’s childhood past that centered upon TV, music, and movies, and for good measure, a brief mention of Lyndon B. Johnson and Barry Goldwater; one name that is rarely mentioned is John F. Kennedy, somewhat ironic since the story occurs a year after Kennedy’s passing. But what may be obvious is the title of the book named after author Wally Lamb’s favorite singers Dusty Springfield and actress Annette Funicello that is fictitiously Felix’s cousin.

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.
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on May 18, 2016
A cute and fun story about Felix Funicello, a 5th grader at a Catholic grade school and his friends and family one fateful holiday season. The characters are larger than life and fairly leap off the page, from the overly strict nun, russian immigrant, and the french-speaking teacher. Great laugh out loud fun!
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on December 5, 2014
WALLY LAMBS HILARIOUS WISHIN AND HOPIN IS SO HILARIOUS I JUST LOVED IT. I HAVE READ MANY OF HIS NOVELS AND LOVED THEM. AND HIS SWEET CUTE NOVEL ABOUT SCHOOL KIDS IS HIS BEST BOOK YET. AND IT IS NOW A TV MOIVE AND ALSO I THINK BEING MADE INTO A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE. THE TV MOVIE WILL BE ON TOMORROW NIGHT ON LIFETIME TVI [LAN ON WATCHING IT. CAN'T WAIT I HOPE WALLY WILL WRITE ANOTHER WARM FAMILY HILARIOUS NOVEL. SOME PEOPLE WHO HAVE READ THE BOOK AND WHO ALSO WROTE BOOKS REVIEWS FOR IT.SAID THAT IT HAD ALOT OF BAD LANUAGE BUT I DIDN'T FIND MUCH DIRTY LANGUAGE WHAT SO EVER. I LAUGHED AND LAUGHED ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE BOOK ITS WONDERFUL AND HILARIOUS AND FUN LIGHT AND DARLING.
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on March 17, 2014
This book would be an enjoyable read for anyone who grew up in the 60's, particularly those affiliated with Catholic school. The story is told through the eyes of the main character, fifth-grader Felix Funicello (third cousin of Mouseketeer Annette). His parents run a soda shoppe in small town Connecticut, he has two older (annoying) teenage sisters, suffers through a variety of nuns, priests and lay-person teachers, and enjoys a classroom full of friends and foes. Felix's adventures include watching his Mom on national tv's Pillsbury Bake-Off, trick or treating with his friend Lonny (and subsequently eating too much candy), skipping church to watch a horror movie (then suffering recurring nightmares as a result), and practicing for and ultimately performing in the school's Christmas Pageant. Poor Felix is also struggling to figure out the birds and the bees, getting little help from his father in that regard. The characters are well-developed, amusing, and almost approaching caricatures of themselves. You knew people just like this when you were growing up. Nostalgic, fun, upbeat story from Wally Lamb, who usually tells more complex, emotionally dark tales like "She's Come Undone" and "I Know This Much is True"
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on February 18, 2015
I'm a huge Wally Lamb fan so when my book club picked this book, I knew I was going to love it. And I wasn't let down by Wishin and Hopin. This book felt very reminiscent of one of my favorite childhood movies A Christmas Story. The way he describes the characters and the school kids its like you are right there with them and we all went to school with and know a Rosaline! Lamb's style of writing is always so easy to read and it feels like you are sitting next to a friend who is telling you a story about their life.
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