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Wishin' and Hopin': A Novel

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  9,278 ratings  ·  1,487 reviews
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 cart ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published November 2nd 2010 by Harper Perennial (first published November 1st 2009)
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Annette Reynolds Happy New Year, Nancy! If you're a Wally Lamb fan I think you'll love "Wishin' and Hopin'."

I read it a couple of months ago and reviewed it here: …more
Happy New Year, Nancy! If you're a Wally Lamb fan I think you'll love "Wishin' and Hopin'."

I read it a couple of months ago and reviewed it here:

It's a darling novella and had no idea there was a movie! So thanks for the info!!

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Community Reviews

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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
I wasn't sure what to expect of this book when I started, but certainly not the story I got. The title describes this as a Christmas story but there was hardly anything 'Christmasy' about it till the last third of the book. I didn't really think it was funny, just one part towards the end. I was given alot of 1960s references - songs, personalities, slang, etc. - almost too much. And the dialogue with the Russian student was just too complicated and time-consuming to read through at times.

I tho
Nostalgic and sweet visitation of an early 60's childhood from the perspective of 10-year Felix Funicello over one Fall at a parochial school in a small Connecticut town. Your heart goes out to this underdog nerd of a kid as he negotiates the moral certitude of the nuns and priests with the Beatles as a chorus. After a customary birds and bees lesson he just doesn't quite have the story straight. His father leaves the sex education up to chance and his only sources are what he can gather from th ...more
Nov 07, 2014 Teresa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Teresa by: Cathrine
A fun, quick read that was absolutely perfect for my reading capabilities during these last few nights before Christmas. Also a good read for anyone who grew up in the early 60s, esp if they went to a Catholic school back then. Thanks, Cathrine!
Well we all know how much I love Wally Lamb. I really, really wanted to love this book. If it is meant to be a Christmas book, it should have some major holiday feel good at the end and it did not. It reminded me of a male Judy Blume book since it is told from the perspective of a 5th grade boy. It was easy to read and the characters were lovable even with their quirkiness and flaws. (but it is my favorite author and it took me almost 2 weeks to read 225 pages..).

He has lots of characters and cl
Nannie Bittinger
This is a most wonderful book...he nailed the Catholic School experience in the 60's but then it could be any school as my husband asked, half way through the audio book: "Who are these people? I don't recognize the names but I feel like I went to school with them!" Everything is wrapped up neatly and completely but no sappiness, just life, funny and touching and real! Read by the author too, and very well done.
This was like a combination of "A Christmas Story" (you know--the one with the leg lamp) and a book I read in about the third grade called "The Worst Christmas Pageant Ever." It's meant to make you feel nostalgic for a different era, and see how much more quirky and loveable people used to be--like nuns, and people who worked at lunch counters or participated in bake-offs. This didn't work for me, but in it's defense, I can say most holiday pieces don't. I did enjoy the ending--it was sweet, une ...more
Paul Jensen
Where do I begin? Let's start with: THIS ISN'T A CHRISTMAS BOOK. It's just a fictionalized nostalgic look at a boy's life during the 60's, and a small part of it happens to involve a school Christmas pageant. So if you're expecting some kind of feel-good (or feel-bad, this IS Wally Lamb we're talking about here...) holiday plot (which the COVER OF THE BOOK LEADS YOU TO BELIEVE!) you might be disappointed. But even for a book about a boy's life it falls flat. There are a few smiles along the way ...more
Please don't be fooled by this book's jolly cover and its sub-title, "A Christmas Story." Much like Jean Shepherd's A Christmas Story, Lamb's novel is disappointingly unchristmasy. The final one-third of the book involves a christmas play, but it lacks the nostalgic holiday feel that I was hoping for.

The cover and sub-title of Wishin' and Hopin': A Christmas Story make me wonder if christmas is just used as a selling point. People are more apt to buy anything that has a red bow on it, right?
If you're ever looking for a good book to read after you've just finished something really long or intense, this is the book to choose! It's the perfect antidote. I literally laughed out loud, making myself look like a crazy lady giggling to myself on the subway. I highly recommend it!
This is a book that I think only those who lived through the era of the 60s as a child can relate to. I loved this book as many of the events and people Felix mentioned I remember...Annette Funnicello was and still is one of my favorite movie people and was a great role model for those of us growing up during that time and in recent years when she announced she had MS! What a brave, strong lady! I remember going to the St. Brieux theatre to see her movie "Beach Blanket Bingo" with my cousins Joa ...more
Probably a 3.5, but my guffaws and laughing out loud tell me to round up. Reading Wally Lamb's Wishin' and Hopin' brought to mind Ralphie Parker in Jean Shephard's The Christmas Story (actually a combination of stories from In God We Trust); Wishin' and Hopin' takes place in the 60s rather than the 50s, same age youngsters, bullies, friendships, life lessons learned, a parochial school and all the memories that will conjure up. It feels as though Lamb is reflecting on memories past rather than a ...more
Kathy (Bermudaonion)
Felix Funicello’s family owns the lunch counter at the local bus station and their claim to fame is that Annette Funicello is their cousin. Felix is in the fifth grade at St. Aloysius Gonzago Parochial School. At the beginning of the school year Sister Dymphna, his teacher, has a breakdown of sorts and is replaced by a lay teacher, the glamorous Madame Marguerite. The classroom is full of characters typical of an elementary school and the school year progresses much like a normal year – mostly s ...more
Pamela Faust
Felix Funicello is a fifth grade boy, attending Catholic grad school, in 1965. He’s vying for the top spot, in his class, with suckbutt Rosalie Twerski (Turdski) who is forever bringing in extra credit posters and projects that have never been assigned. His best friend, Lonny, is a troublemaker who is doing his best to misinform Felix about the birds and the bees since Felix’s dad is not doing a great job at it (the only advice he gives is not to touch his mouth to a drinking fountain). There is ...more
First, I must admit, I'm not a Lamb fan. But I was told this book was not his normal fare, so I thought I might like it. I slogged through it, hoping the series of slapped together 1960s vignettes (can you say Pillsbury Bake off and Mickey Mouse Club?) and bits of fifth grade boy humor would pick up, but no such luck. Unlike A Christmas Story, to which I've seen this compared, Lamb's book never captures the feel of the decade. Felix, our young Catholic school hero, reminds me of those kids on th ...more
"Looking like a lovable little cartoon character was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it made me vulnerable to my sisters' ridicule. On the other hand, my resemblance to Dondi . . . would frequently afford me the presumption of innocence when more often than not, I was guilty."

The title, “Wishin’ and Hopin’: A Christmas Story,” is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, it’s a nostalgic coming-of-age tale filled with adolescent longings and antics, musical scores, and culture fads of the sixties. But a
I got this book and took it back to the library two days later, abandoned. I thought there was finally a Lamb book that I would was short and took place at a time in our history that was near and dear to my heart. Well, it was not to be. The book is a series of "slices of life" vignettes with no discernible plot. Almost like a catalog of 60s references.

I did, however, like the green font that was used...unusual.
I found the book annoying and disappointing. It's marketed as a holiday story, but there's nothing much about Christmas until the end.

Part of the problem was the writing style, which was flat with weak attempts at immature humor. The other part is that I just couldn't relate to the main character's memories of his life growing up in a Catholic school system. It just came across as bizarre rather than humorous.
Marisa Fields
This book was a grave disappointment to me. I have enjoyed every Wally Lamb novel and have a certain expectation of depth, mystery and wonderful character development. This book failed in all three categories. I have nothing against a short, quick read, but I still want to be entranced by the story. I not only do not give this book a thumbs up, I give it a giant raspberry as a waste of precious reading time.
Very sweet, atmospheric book. It was just what I was looking for in a holiday book. Not too saccharine. I grew up in an Italian Catholic town and the parochial school was very prominent. This echoed those times very nicely. Well worth reading.
I read the print edition of this book for a book club.

This was a quick read and so funny. Part of its attraction for me was that I grew up in the same era, although I was younger than the protagonist, Felix Funicello.

The story follows the adventures of 5th grader Felix, who is enrolled at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School, in Three Rivers, CT. The time span is the fall and winter of 1964.

Part of the story involves Felix's family. Annette Funicello is a 3rd cousin. Felix's dad operates a di
I was looking for a Christmas tale, when I came across this one. Since it was written by Wally Lamb, I thought I'd give it a go, as I really enjoyed some of his other books. This one was different than his other works, in that it was more light-hearted. However, it failed to wow me.

It really didn't have a plot to speak of and it was written in way that's meant to make you feel nostalgic for a different era, but failed. Instead I felt as if I was being beaten over the head, with the writing sayin
Book Concierge
Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb

This story takes place from October to December, 1964 in New London, Connecticut. Felix Funicello is a distant cousin of famous Mouseketeer Annette Funicello. Her posters are prominently displayed in his family’s lunch counter at the bus station. Felix is in 5th grade at St Aloysius Gonzaga parochial school, where he vies for #1 student status with Rosalie Twerski, and is best friends with Lonny Flood, who, having been “kept back” twice is the oldest studen
I have been a fan of Wally Lamb since I read his novel, She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True. He has a way of getting into the heads of his characters and bringing them to life. He tackles serious topics, steeped in emotion and morality. I knew going in that Wishin' and Hopin' was a different sort of novel for the author, but I still eagerly anticipated reading it.

Although I have never seen the movie A Christmas Story straight through (I watched the movie out of order--second half firs
Tyson Call
While generally pleasurable to read, Lamb's book failed to take hold of me in such a way that I desired to come back to it as soon as possible. I finished it, however, which cannot be said for all books I have begun reading.

It tells of the narrator's youth (1964) in a Catholic school, generally taking place around Christmas, and much of the plot revolves around a new student, her effect on the class, and the production of a nativity tableaux. Some may compare it to Jean Shepherd's famous Christ
In Wally Lamb's Wishin' and Hopin': A Christmas Story, fifth grader Felix Funicello takes us back in time to 1964. Felix is the distant cousin of America's Sweetheart back then, Annette Funicello, of the original Mickey Mouse Club. Felix's family owns a small diner, and Annette's posters grace the walls, there is even an ice cream dish named after her.
Felix attends parochial school and most of the story revolves around his school life and his fellow classmates and teachers as well as his
Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb is not your typical Christmas story. In fact, there is little “typical” about it. Taking place in a Catholic school in the mid-60’s, fifth grader Felix often finds himself in the midst of the most curious of circumstances, looking for an escape route. Somewhat reminiscent of Jean Shepherd’s Ralphie, Felix finds himself in trouble through no fault of his own. Distantly related to Annette Funicello, only one of his family’s claim to fame, Felix is never one to shy ...more
This is a humorous tale of a fifth-grade boy trying to understand himself and the world around him in the early 1960s. Narrated in the first person, Felix tells of life in parochial school, of his confused understanding of "the birds and the bees," and of a hilariously disastrous Christmas pageant.

I found this book a little hard to get into at first, but I'm really glad that I kept with it. Although this book and its main characters are fictional, real-life Mouseketeer Annette Funicello is wove
I mostly hate Wally Lamb's books. I'm not sure why I keep reading them.

I give this book two stars for being kind of cute and for being a departure from Lamb's usual heavy-handed topics. I don't think Lamb was really trying to achieve much with this book other than writing something kind of cutesy with a few puke and boner jokes. However, the writing style still falls prey to some of what I find most annoying about all of Lamb's books.

Lamb's books are often set in a specific period of time, and h
When I was a middle school student in NJ I would snuggle under the covers and listen to Jean Shepherd on WOR and sometimes his stories would go over my head but some, the ones about his childhood, were funny and comforting and I loved. Listening to Wally Lamb reading Wishin' and Hopin' took me to that same happy place but this story didn't go over my head because I could have been in the same classroom as the kids in this story. Is Wally Lamb a time traveler? How can he remember all those nuance ...more
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Wally Lamb is the author of She's Come Undone, The Hour I First Believed, and I Know This Much Is True. Two were featured as selections of Oprah's Book Club. Lamb is the recipient of the Connecticut Center for the Book's Lifetime Achievement Award, the Connecticut Bar Association's Distinguished Public Service Award, the Connecticut Governor's Art Award, the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers ...more
More about Wally Lamb...
I Know This Much Is True She's Come Undone The Hour I First Believed We Are Water Couldn't Keep it to Myself:  Wally Lamb and the Women of York Correctional Institution

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