Wally Lamb narrates this grand slice of American life circa 1964 in the words of 10-year-old Felix Funicello. Adding to the joy, he focuses on one memorable Christmas. Felix is a fifth grader at St. Aloysius Catholic School in New London, Connecticut. Lamb as narrator is glorious; the large Funicello family is warm and distinctive while Felix's fiesty Russian classmate, Zhenya, is hilarious with her mispronunciations of which "bezball" for "baseball" is but one example. As Felix, Lamb speaks kid English and often adds breathless additions or asides to his narrative. Most boisterous is the school's live Christmas tableau during which things go merrily awry. His standout is Felix's Quebecois substitute teacher with her distinctive French laugh. Many listeners will undoubtedly add this treat
Back in his beloved fictional town of Three Rivers, Connecticut, with a new cast of endearing characters, Wally Lamb takes his listeners 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 Kapakova. 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.
©2009 Wally Lamb; (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers
"Charming....Full of pop-culture references of the day. This will have broad appeal." (Library Journal)
Love books! Classics and lighter fiction, mysteries (not too violent please :-). And selective non-fiction--whatever takes my fancy.
I've read several novels by Wally Lamb, and while I loved them, they were more serious and heavy in theme and presentation. This was such a delightful surprise. It simply demonstrates how versatile a writer Lamb is.
I guess this is a combination coming of age and Christmas comedy. Felix Funicello, who is distantly related to Annette Funicello--of Mickey Mouse, etc, fame, is still a bit of an innocent when the story takes place. His peers are beginning to get a bit more informed and sophisticated, so part of the amusement comes from realizing we were all, at some point in our lives, caught between being in the know, and sort of out of it at the same time. Felix attempts to act as though he understands things still a bit over his head, while often not really getting all the innuendoes of things said around him. But the plot is so funny! When the nun who is his teacher has a nervous breakdown in class, she is replaced by a sexy French-speaking lay teacher in a catholic school in the 60's, and the scene is set for lots of laughing. The end of the book is just laugh out loud hilarious.
The narration was pitch perfect, the story was great, so don't be put off by the short length of the book. Worth every bit of the credit, and then some! I loved it!
I was pleasantly surprised by this little book...I haven't read any of Wally Lamb's others. Since I grew up in the same time and vicinity as the narrator, this book rang so true to me. Nothing like growing up Catholic!
I have listened to this twice and bought a copy for my mom and aunt to read because found it so funny. I can't listen to it in public-- people look at me like I'm crazy because I laugh out loud. I love Felix and this great Christmas story!
This is truly a fun and nostalgic look back at 1964 with a parochial school and it's preparations for Christmas through the eyes of a fifth grader, Felix Funicello. The descriptions of the school pageant makes this book a complete winner in and of itself!!
Felix is the narrator in this cleverly written look at life through the eyes of a spunky, but not completely understanding boy who shares 'all' about his life at home and at school. He's also a distant cousin of Disney's early icon, Anette Funicello, which plays well into the story too!
Every character adds to the poienency and hilarity of this coming of age story. From the modern Quebec 'French' substitute teacher for the mentally disturbed nun, to the new Russian girl who competes with the classes' 'little Miss Suck-up', to the sexually advanced boy, to Felix's family who are so completely nostalgic of every small 1960's family, this book will remind every reader of the 'good old days'.
Even the 'expected' epilogue is tremendous for it's look at how people grow and change!! A thoroughly enjoyable book that I'm very glad I read!!
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Are you sure this didn't happen at St. Xavier's in Spokane Washington? I relived so many moments of my childhood through this wonderful story that I found myself stopping and wondering if this guy was a classmate of mine! Anyone who attended a parochial school in the 60s MUST buy this book ~ especially during the holiday season! Wally Lamb not only wrote an amazing book, he narrates it to perfection. Thank you for giving me 4 hours of pure joy!
Wishin’ and Hopin’ is a heart-warming and frequently hilarious story of 10-year-old Felix Funicello’s Christmas of 1964. Wally Lamb’s narration is flawless and having grown up in Connecticut, I appreciated his natural accent which any actor would most likely have turned into a less subtle Rhode Island or Boston accent. This is a nostalgic tale falling somewhere between Jean Shepherd’s 1930 Christmas memories and David Sedaris’ Holidays on Ice. It is a perfect story to share with a loved one on a long car ride – guaranteed for good laughs and even some tears! It would be the perfect Christmas gift for any Baby Boomer on your shopping list!
This book made me smile, and laugh and reminisce and imagine life in a simpler time. Excellent story, characters, narration. Just fabulous holiday fun!
I want more books like this! Reminds me of A Christmas Story. The only book I am reminded of is Littlle Blog on the Prairie. It too was family friendly and a good escape.
I loved this. Am sending it to friends in place of a Christmas card! Isn't that a great idea!
I've listened to this several years at Christmas. It is just so funny, realistic and nostalgic all at the same time. I've gotten way more than my credit's worth on this one!
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