What a jolly little Christmas story! With only seven chapters and a fast-paced plot, it only took me three hours to finish the book. In sharp contrast to Wally Lamb’s previous book, The Hour I First Believed, Wishin’ and Hopin’: A Christmas Story was inexplicably funny and charming. Lamb takes us back to the winter of the 1960s to depict a cozy tale from a small town in Connecticut. Although I couldn’t relate personally with the events that had occurred in the 60s (obviously), I was able to imagine the story like it was straight out of a sixties film. The main character, Felix Funicello, is a comical fifth-grade, Italian-American rascal who narrates the entire story in and out of his Catholic elementary school. Being friends with the dumbest yet funniest kid in class, Lonny, the duo is hilarious when it comes to surreptitiously picking on girls and their teacher. With a French-speaking substitute teacher and a foreign transplant from Russia coming into their lives, Felix begins to learn from their “weird and different” cultures and finds humor in learning bad words in different languages. I also didn’t know that fifth graders were “old” enough to learn about sex and French kissing!
Just as how he was able to capture She’s Come Undone completely from an adolescent female’s perspective, Lamb tastefully and facetiously captures the lives of these children from an eleven-year-old boy’s perspective. I nostalgically laughed out loud a few times, tracing back my memories to my fifth grade years through the narration of Felix. Words like recess and tattle-telling, and phrases such as boys pulling on pony tails and performing in a Christmas nativity play brought flashbacks from my childhood. It was tough being a fifth grader! :) Wishin’ and Hopin’ is a short and sweet Christmas story that gracefully brings a sentimental smile and warmth to your heart. A great Christmas gift for all ages.
dee’s recommendation: 5/5