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.
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