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Wishin' And Hopin' (2009)

Wishin' and Hopin' (2009)
3.48 of 5 Votes: 4
HarperCollins e-books
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Wishin' And Hopin' (2009)
Wishin' And Hopin' (2009)

About book: If a friend tells you that you should write a Christmas story, it doesn't always mean that you should write a Christmas story. It seemed like Lamb was going for a "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" storyline, but failed to deliver on the climactic ending. Instead, this novel was a scattering of short stories strung together. If the writing were better, there might have been some enjoyment to find in the mundane occurrences of adolescence. Oh well, at least it was a quick and easy read, and I added a few words to my limited French vocabulary. Quite a few years back, I picked up Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone after hearing a number of my friends bandy those review terms that now make me so suspicious of a book's quality when used heavy-handedly -- "life changing", "riveting", "I weeped", etc -- yeah, none of those things happened for me. It was a solid "meh" for me. So when I saw this book at a recent book sale, I was hesitant, remembering my first underwhelming experience with his work. But I try not to write off {hehe, 100% unintentional pun I just caught...sweeet} an author solely off of one bad read. I tend to think even the most lauded writers (like actors) will have a dud or two out there. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised to find I really enjoyed this one! It didn't send me over the moon or anything, but it gave me enough smiles and warm fuzzies to reach the last page and think, "Yeah, not bad!" Considering the title, I don't know if the connection was intentional or coincidental, but I thought the tone and rhythm of the novel were very similar to the narration of the Christmas classic movie, A Christmas Story. Wishin' and Hopin' gives us the coming-of-age story of Felix Funicello: 5th grader; 3rd cousin to actress Annette Funicello; and spittin' image of the cartoon character Dondi,as he grows up in the small, close-knit community of Three Rivers, Connecticut during the holiday season of 1964, just a year after the assassination of JFK. Felix's parents run a lunch counter at the local bus depot, where they have pretty entertaining interactions with all sorts of colorful community characters. Much of the story is written around the antics of Felix and his best friend, Lonny. Students of a co-ed Catholic school, the boys decide they want to take down the "teacher's pet" of their class, Rosalie Twerski. Their grand plan is to spit BB pellets at her with a straw, but while carrying out the plan, Felix gets distracted by a bat he sees in the classroom. He decides to shoot that instead, sending the bat all over the classroom as well as sending his teacher, Sister Dymphna (already a little mentally unstable) completely over the edge. She claims the bat is Satan, proclaiming it so loudly that other nuns have to come in and escort her out of the building, announcing that she will be out on leave indefinitely. The boys are also just starting to approach the age where girls are interesting to them. Lonny, especially, seems easily set off by the female form. He divides his interest between two female subjects, one being Felix's older sister, Simone... which leads to an embarrassing moment between all three of them one morning! His other target of interest is Zhenya, a Russian foreign exchange student who comes to their class after the impromptu sabbatical of Sister Dymphna. Even Felix takes notice of Zhenya and what he calls her "bazoom-booms"! Zhenya tries to be open and friendly with everyone, and while all the students are curious about her, they hesitate to get to know her because it's the 1960s and everyone's whispering "what if she's a Communist?!". Poor girl can't catch a break. They also say she reeks of mayo (she conditions her hair with it) and they're weirded out that she always eats crackers and canned herring for lunch. They don't know what to do with her. Lonny is the first to break the ice when he discovers he and Zhenya share an interest in learning swear words and dirty phrases in other languages! X-D He also comes to discover she's actually quite the tomboy, with real talent in baseball and Dodgeball, which soon gets all the other guys in the class warmed up to her. But sadly, the guys embracing her causes the other girls to pull back even more, disgusted that she's so much like a dirty, smell boy! As the story progresses though, Zhenya finds a way to even win those girls over. It's a nice heartwarming tale all around with some good laughs and of course, what would such a Christmas tale be without the ubiquitous Christmas Pageant (ie. Christmas Nativity Play) and Holiday Bake-Off gone horribly, hilariously wrong! Yep, that's here too. It's also a nice little time capsule of a story, giving younger readers who didn't grow up in the era (like myself) a little glimpse into what childhood in 1960s small-town America might have been like. **This was close to a 3.5 star read for me.
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A very cute and adorable read for Christmas. I do love Wally Lamb~
A cute, quick read that was perfect for the holidays.
Cute holiday story that can be read quickly
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