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Wishin' and Hopin'

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  13,840 ratings  ·  1,992 reviews
Wally Lamb, the beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Hour I First Believed, I Know This Much Is True, and She’s Come Undone, delivers a holiday treat with Wishin’ and Hopin’—an unforgettable novella that captures the warmth and joy of the holiday season. Poignant and hilarious, in a vein similar to Jean Shepherd’s A Christmas Story and David Sedaris’s The Sa ...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!!

Helen 1) What effect does having an older kid in class, have on elementary-school students?
2) Is it helpful that the teacher teaches the children French?
1) What effect does having an older kid in class, have on elementary-school students?
2) Is it helpful that the teacher teaches the children French?
3) How is mental illness perceived in this book?
4) What effect does the goody-goody student have on the class? How did her parents seem to raise her?
5) Describe the pros and cons of the Russian girl's personality.
6) What are some of the lines that show you that the author really knows how children think and feel?
7) Do you think the followup lines accurately describe the future?
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Community Reviews

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3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  13,840 ratings  ·  1,992 reviews

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Jul 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Peter Monn
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Omg one of the funniest and most endearing stories. Truly a Christmas classic! My full review will be up on my booktube channel at
Nov 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I received this story as part of a Christmas gift last year and I decided to save it for this Christmas season. Our fifth grader protagonist, Felix Funicello, tells tales of his Catholic school life while also supplying readers with funny outtakes from his neighborhood. It reminded me a bit of the 1983 film A Christmas Story as it balances childhood innocence with the very adult world.
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was absolutely delightful!

If you ever went to Catholic school (as I did for 13 years!), enjoyed the movie "A Christmas Story", or laughed til you cried while reading the Christmas pageant scene in "A Prayer for Owen Meany", then this book is for you.

This wonderfully nostalgic book was the perfect way to close out my year. Surprisingly, this was only my 2nd book read in 2015 that I deemed worthy of 5***** stars! I knew I was stingy with my 5 stars, but that's just sad.
Dec 24, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  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, especially if they went to a Catholic school back then. Thanks, Cathrine!
Nov 28, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this little book because it reminded me about a simpler time in America. I never went to catholic school, but my oldest son did and he laughed when I told him several occurrences in the book.

The book is an easy read. Just what I needed for the busy holidays.
Kris - My Novelesque Life
Dec 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: only fans of Wally Lamb

Written by Wally Lamb
2009; Harper Collins (268 Pages)
Genre: holidays, historical fiction, humour, fiction


Wishin’ and Hopin’ is more of a novella so it is a quick read. This quirky story is about a fifth grader, Felix Funicello and his family, in the 1960s.

First of all, I do not understand why this novella is a “Christmas” story. The only part of the book that deals with Christmas is the towards the end. And, even then I didn’t really get a
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
Ange H
Nov 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are a Wally Lamb fan - and I don't understand how you could not be - then you know his books are long, intense and kind of dark. Wishin' and Hopin' is a different kind of story, focused on the very likable 10 year old Felix Funicello and his family. They are distantly related to film star Annette Funicello, a fact that they advertise prominently at the lunch counter they run. The main action centers around a Christmas show put on by the Catholic school Felix attends, with much affectionat ...more
Marisa Fields
Aug 29, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
What a wonderful, poignant, story of life in the early sixties for the Funnicello family and the Catholic school they attended. I'm still laughing about Joseph Cotton's head rolling down the stairs and the "too afraid to go to sleep" Felix. My kids did the same thing to me after watching a half hour of "The Shining". Couldn't go to sleep by themselves for a month! Great book!
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!
Nov 12, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wally Lamb proves he can be damn funny. This short novel is filled with event after event that will leave you laughing out loud. It is 1964 and Felix Funicello, the distant cousin of Annette, is a Fifth Grader in catholic school. Lamb tells the story through Felix's eyes and if you have ever been a fifth-grade boy you know Lamb just nails this. For you fans of A Christmas Story, there are scenes where Felix out Ralphies Ralphie.
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
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christmas, childhood
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
Nov 27, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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?
Lauri Saplad
This book is hysterical! A snapshot of America in a more innocent and hopeful time and set at Christmas. What could be better?
Susan Crowe
Loved this!!! I laughed the entire time I was listening. Wally Lamb narrates. Highly recommended!
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romans-jeunesse
Frais et drôle. Felix et ses amis m'ont fait passer un bon moment en leur compagnie dans les sixties.
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
really good for the holiday season and anyone who grew up in the '60s. Also a very quick read.
Deb  Darling
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For baby boomers this is a must read...I laughed so hard I cried!
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
"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
Jan 01, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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