Wishin' and Hopin' is a Christmas story that is heartwarming and funny. It's the story of Felix Funicello a 10 year old boy who is in the fifth grade in a Catholic elementary school in 1964. Felix narrates the story and is a boy who is innocent and a bit naive but he can also find himself in trouble by his own doing. His parents own a lunch counter at the bus station in Three Rivers, Connecticut and their cousin is the famous actress Annette Funicello. The fifth grade class has a substitute teacher for the first part of the year that is a layperson and not a nun. Madame Marguerite brings an interesting perspective with her focus on all things French. The class is full of interesting characters and antics that will make you chuckle at times and at others feel sympathy for those in many embarrassing situations.
The book ends with the hilarious school Christmas pageant where almost everything seems to go wrong. It is truly laugh out loud funny. There is a poignant end to the story for Felix's family that binds them together and is a highlight of their family memories. I especially enjoyed the epilogue at the end of the book where Wally Lamb lets us know what happens to the characters in the story. That was a nice touch as we don't often know what happens to the characters in a story and this was a fun way to end the book.
I'm a fan of Lamb's work and this was no exception. It was quite different than his previous novels but I enjoyed it immensely. If you are looking for a light and fun Christmas book to read or give as a gift, this is the perfect choice.