Review: Wishin’ and Hopin’: A Christmas Story by Wally Lamb

wishin and hopinIt’s funny that “A Christmas Story” is in the title of this novel by Wally Lamb, because this book reminds me of the movie “A Christmas Story.” It’s told from the perspective of fifth grader Felix Funicello, distant relative of Mouseketeer Annette Funicello, in the mid 1960’s. It has the same flavor as the aforementioned movie – comedic and nostalgic. Felix is a bit of a wiseacre (I thought that word more appropriate for a story taking place in the 60’s) but still naive when it comes to the birds and the bees. Some of the things he overhears and that his friends tell him, he misinterprets.

He’s also in Catholic school  – where most of the story takes place – and his depictions of the nuns and his fellow students are great. As a Catholic school survivor myself, I could appreciate the rituals and stereotypes he portrayed.

And yes, this is also a Christmas story. The action culminates with the school Christmas musical, where a power struggle between Rosalie, the overachieving tattletale and Zhenya, the “exuberant” new girl from Russia, comes to a head for all to see. It would be a refreshing replacement to see this for 24 hours on Christmas Day, instead of Ralphie and his Red Rider BB gun. It’s a quick read, which is quite unlike Lamb’s other novels, which are among my all-time faves. Read this one with a glass of egg nog, by the light of your Leg Lamp, this holiday season.

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