Finished: Dec. 9, 2010
First Published: Nov. 10, 2009
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Fictional memoir, historical fiction, coming of age, Christmas
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.