277. Wishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb

Wishin' and Hopin': A Christmas Story by Wally Lamb (Canada) - (US)

Pages: 273
Ages: 18+
Finished: Dec. 9, 2010
First Published: Nov. 10, 2009
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Fictional memoir, historical fiction, coming of age, Christmas
Rating: 3.5/5

First sentence:

The year I was a fifth-grade student at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School, our teacher, Sister Dymphna, had a nervous breakdown in front of the class.

Acquired: Borrowed a copy from my local library.

Reason for Reading: Every December I drop whatever reading I'm supposed to be doing and read a Christmas book. The paperback of this came out just recently and the advertising made me choose to read it.

I quite enjoyed this nostalgic look back at a year in the 1960's life of a 10 year-old Catholic school boy. The narrator takes us back to that fifth grade year and reminisces about his family and especially his friends and days at the parochial school. Obviously, I'm always attracted to a book with a Catholic theme (I'm Catholic) and I enjoyed the portrayal which allows Catholics to laugh at themselves and also to see the differences in communication between the religious and the lay from then to now. Felix Funicello, the narrator, is a third cousin to the famous Annette and he regales us with the shenanigans that he and his friend got up to at school and out of school, the various personalities in the classroom especially the stuck-up smartest girl in the class, the new Russian girl who arrives after classes have started (is she a Communist spy?) and the stories of his family including his mother's TV appearance on the Pillsbury Dough Bake-Off Competition. I found the stories nostalgic, amusing and fun, though not funny. I didn't laugh out loud.

I was quite shocked by the vulgarity of the language that starts very soon into the book. It is not ever present but is quite frequent and not what I had expected to find. Once the shock of 10 year olds being so vulgar was over, it actually didn't bother me that much. But if swearing, dirty jokes and crude references to s*xual acts offends thee, this is not the book for you. The other thing I did not like at all was the Epilogue! It kind of ruined the whole good feelings I had about the book after I read it. It's one of those summaries that tells you where each character is now, or what happened to them. It was quite depressing to read the future lives of these characters, especially the children. I didn't see the point of it. But on a positive note the book ended with Annette Funicello's current situation and how you can make donations to MS Society.

Overall, an enjoyable book. I'm glad I read it but not quite what I thought it would be. I certainly enjoyed the writing style and never having read Lamb before am interested in reading another of his works.


  1. LOL - NOT at your post but the "e-reader free zone" image on your side bar. What's up with that? Are you anti-eReaders or do you just . . . I can't even think of another option. :) Please do tell.

    As for Wishin' and Hopin', I'm glad you liked it more than I did. I didn't think the ending was necessary either.

  2. heehee - when I saw that image I knew I had to make a statement! My "not interested" attitude to eReaders has grown to an actual dislike for them, I'm afraid.

    I don't want them to replace physical books in the future. I love how people walk into my house and immediately start browsing my shelves and conversation starts. I love the feel and smell of paper books. And most of all I can't imagine a world without cheap secondhand books.

    Plus I think they are way too expensive. I can't imagine spending that much money for a file, probably why I still by actual music CDs too instead of downloading tunes. I want something physical, I can hold and pass around. An old rule of business I was taught a long time ago: Never pay money for something you cannot turn around and sell again.

    So my logo "This site is an e-reader free zone" means all books represented here have been read from actual books with pages. LOL!

    And perhaps some people will notice it bfore contacting me asking me to review their new eBook.

  3. Thanks for the review. I brought this one home from the library and haven't gotten around to reading it. Now I don't think I'll bother, based on your review.

  4. I read this one last Christmas and honestly didn't care for it, but since you mentioned that you haven't read his other books I have to say: PLEASE read his other stuff! He's one of my favourite authors and I've loved his other three books.

  5. I understand your thoughts, but I don't think eReaders will replace all books. I believe "readers" love physical books and will continue to purchase them. I, for one, will continue to purchase books - I'm currently waiting (and waiting) for a delivery of 15 books or so from Book Closeouts. My addiction hasn't been thwarted (not sure if that is good or bad). Also, I will purchase books that I've read on my iPad or Kindle that I want for keeps in my personal library.

    Anyway, I like to view eReaders as another tool to increase readership in general. As a teacher, I couldn't be happier with the prospect of getting more people into the written word. Latest and greatest gadgets are very appealing, so eReaders can and have targeted many non-readers with great success. You can't be against that, Nicola! There is some good to the little buggers. :)

    As for the rule of business you mentioned, I agree with the general, overall concept and while life is a business to be managed, I don't believe all things apply. For a silly example (but true), there are all the consumables in life. You buy them and then they are gone - can't resell those! But, you can resell an eReader. As for the cost of books to put on the eReaders, that will vary on an individual's desire. I think I only spent $2.99 once and $2.49 a time or two, but the rest have been $.99 or free (the majority)! I don't think that eBooks need to be the concern. As consumers of the written word, we can have the best of both worlds.

    Understanding that you've heard it all before, I still hope my thoughts will have you rethinking your disdain for eReaders. I'm not trying to convince you to buy one, just to see them in a more positive light. I think actual books will continue to be printed, maybe is lesser quantities, but printed nonetheless.

    Ultimately, I think the pleasure and ease one can derive from an eReader is priceless. (no pun intended)

    *I have enjoyed our discussion. I'm looking forward to your response. :)


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