Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb

Fifth grader Felix Funicello will never forget the winter of 1964, and this is the story why. During the fall and winter, Felix's mom competes in the national bake-off, his class gets a lay teacher after his nun teacher cracks up one day, and a new student shakes things up in the class.

The book is a nostalgic look at childhood: a time when you pretended to understand all the jokes (but really didn't), when somebody puking was news, and a time when the Christmas pageant was epic. I was surprised by this book because I always think of Wally Lamb's books as serious, with issues. This book, on the other hand, is a lighthearted comedy.

It's not completely unpredictable - if there's a Christmas program at school, something bad's going to happen - but there's a lot more going on that will keep readers guessing. Felix's cringe-worthy antics are well drawn, and incidentally, Lamb did a nice job reading the audiobook version himself.

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