Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wishin' and Hopin' A Christmas Story by Wally Lamb

The year is 1964 and the hero of our story is Felix Funicello, aged ten, an Italian-American boy, and distant cousin of the famous Annette. He attends St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School and after a grueling day under the tutelage of nuns helps out his parents at their lunch counter inside the local bus station where the jukebox frequently plays “Tall Paul” and “Pineapple Princess” and posters of his famous relative in both Mouseketeer garb and a daring white bikini adorn the walls. He’s a typical boy, curious about the birds and the bees, and puzzled by dirty jokes he doesn’t understand, consumed by his rivalry with his busybody know-it-all classmate Rosalie, and proud of his mother’s Shepherd’s Pie Italiano being chosen as a finalist for the Pillsbury Bake Off, which means she will appear on live tv.

This is a fun little book that fans of the movie “A Christmas Story” and the trials and tribulations of Ralphie and his family may really enjoy. There are several amusing episodes which I won’t spoil for readers by describing here, including the big and hilarious disaster of the school Christmas pageant. This is a fun story, nostalgic in its setting, but not overly sweet or sentimental or with a Christmas message to pour on like too much cream cheese frosting on a red velvet cake. It’s just plain fun and just a little bawdy, like full makeup on a little girl playing the Virgin Mary in the school Christmas play. If you shed any tears reading this book they will be from laughter.

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