I’ve been a fan of Wally Lamb for quite a few years now having read a few of his novels so I was excited to read Wishin’ and Hopin’ and I wasn’t disappointed. At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like it but just as quickly I got into the swing of things back in the 1960’s and starting enjoying this novel quite a bit. It really takes you back to a time when things were easier and reminds you of the younger years you’ve already left behind with fondness.
Felix Funicello, yes a distant cousin to the famous Annette Funicello, is in fifth grade and much to his horror is always compared to Dondi, the adorable war orphan in comic strips. This novel is about Felix in the fifth grade and yet so much more with all the other quirky characters hanging out in this book. Felix is quite the kid, very naive, and very amusing. You can’t help but laugh out loud with some of the things he’ll say or do. He has a friend Lonny who is far from innocent and Lonny likes to tell Felix jokes that just fly right over his head and unfortunately for Felix come back later to bite him in the butt when he tells them in the most inappropriate places.
Life is pretty busy for Felix. His father runs a diner where Felix likes to spend time, his mother is going to be on television for the Pillsbury Bake-Off (this was so funny), Felix himself is going to appear on the Ranger Andy show, school is hopping with new teachers and entertaining students and most of all there is the dreaded school Christmas pageant coming up.
One of the funniest parts of the novel for me was when a new student came to Felix’s fifth grade class – her name Zhenya and she’s from Russia. Between the way she pronounces things to her personality, these sections had me laughing. She definitely wasn’t the typical Catholic girl and while she wasn’t too popular with the girls she certainly was with the boys as she loved sports instead of girly things. I busted a gut on her pronunciation of Felix Funicello’s name which I just have to share – Fillix Foony Jello.
Other than the funny Zhenya, this novel is full of funny and quirky characters. There are many characters introduced in this novel and yet it’s not hard to keep track of any of them. Felix’s classmates are amusing especially Rosalie who strives to be the teacher’s pet and gets her nose very out of joint if she isn’t. My favorite of course is Felix who takes us back to the innocence of being a kid where a scary movie sends you to sleep with mom and where you just live life without the worries and stresses of being an adult.
If you want to find yourself back in the time when the Beatles were Entertainer of the Year, Mary Poppins was the most popular movie, Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte with Bette Davis was in the theater, Annette Funicello was at the height of her career, or Gunsmoke was still on the air; then Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb is the book for you. You surely won’t be disappointed by this wonderful journey back in time!
I read Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb for his book tour with TLC Book Tours. You can check out what others thought of the novel here. You can purchase your own copy here in the US and here in the Canada.
© 2010, Darlene of Peeking Between the Pages. All Rights Reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than Peeking Between the Pages or Darlene’s Feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
My copy of Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb was provided for review by TLC Book Tours and the publisher.
I'm a Wally Lamb fan, too. Read this last year and loved it! The journey back in time was such fun.
(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea says
I love Wally Lamb, and as a baby boomer, really enjoyed this book.
I must admit that I have not yet read ANY Wally Lamb. But it sounds like it would be hard to resist one with a character related to Annette!
Never heard of this, but it sounds good. I am glad you liked it!
Wall-to-wall books says
You know, I have never read a Wally Lamb book!!! Have wanted to but… just too many books to read.
Wall-to-wall books says
P.S. the cover is adorable!
I loved this one as well.
I think I am going to be making this my Christmas read for the year, and am hoping to love it as much as everyone else does. I do love Wally Lamb and have read almost all of his other books, so I should do just fine with this one too. Thanks for sharing your wonderful thoughts on this one with us. I am off to add it to my wish list!
I read this last year and thought it was charming. Felix was a hoot!
Sandy Nawrot says
I do so love Wally Lamb, so I know I would love it. My only issue with is books is that most of them are torturously long. I don't think this one is though, so I'm going to have to chase it down soon!
I love reading books that take place in the 60's and 70's and it sounds like Felix is a fun character to get to know. Would I be wrong in assuming this book has a "Randy and Ralphie" / A Christmas Story kind of vibe going on?
I read this last year when it first came out in hardback and loved it. I'm a big fan of Wally Lamb's work. I loved Felix and his family. This is a wonderful book to read around the holidays.
This sounds like a book that will most certainly make me cry!!! I want to read it!!
I have this one from the library. Glad to see you enjoyed it. It seems like it'll be a great December read, presuming I get to it.
Heather J. @ TLC Books says
I've been hearing such good things about this book! It's not something I'd normally pick up (dare I admit I've never read any of Lamb's work?!) but all the great reviews I've read make me REALLY want to read it.
Thanks for being a part of the tour.
Alice Teh says
I'd love to read this too, Dar. I've got one of Wally Lamb's books but haven't read it. I would like to read it next year.
Wally Lamb is one of my favorite authors too. Shame on me for not having read this one yet.
lol about the Russian classmate and her quirky pronunciations.
sarah pekkanen says
I didn't realize this book was out! Love Wally Lamb. Thanks for the review.
I read this last year at Christmas and was completely charmed by it!
Every time I see this cover I think of the movie The Christmas Story.
I just finished "Wishin' and Hopin'", and it was a pleasant enough diversion. But I was surprised at the anachronisms in a book that depended so heavily upon pop culture for its setting:
The two Annette movies, "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini" and "Beach Blanket Bingo" had not even been released when the story takes place. Characters in the book quote the Rolling Stones'
"Satisfaction", and the Shangrilas' "Leader of the Pack" when they had not yet been recorded.
Furthermore, author Lamb twice references Carnaby Street as an icon of fashion, when the American familiarity with that scene was two years later than the story takes place.
Some will chide me for noting this ("…it's only a story!!"), but it is more than a little odd that a book so heavily invested in popular American culture could get key ingredients so wrong.
I’m reading now. Almost finished. Love your review.