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CHRISTMAS IN JULY
on July 18, 2010
It must be an age thing but the older I get the more nostalgic I become and the more books like Wally Lamb's Wishin' and Hopin': A Christmas Story appeal to me.
This little saga takes the reader back to the 60's when kids were really kids (and not little zombies tied by the "electronic umbilical cord" to either, their cell phone, computer, or i-pod). They went to school, were fearful of their teachers (instead of visa-versa), had no "rights" (except to learn the assigned classroom material) and actually came away from the experience with some knowledge of the "3 R's".
We follow Felix Funicello, a wide-eyed 10 year old boy and cousin of Annette, as he experiences the trepidation and wonder of a Catholic school education, the competitive harassment of a "tattle-tale" teachers pet, the deliciously terrifying ordeal of sitting through Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte (the Bette Davis follow up to "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane) and trying not to show his fright, his mom competing in the Pillsbury Bake off hosted by non other than Ronald Reagan, the annual school pageant and a plethora of other every day happenings that most of us of "a certain age" can fondly recall.
I notice that a few reviewers felt the story was a bore. Perhaps this delightful trip down memory lane had to be experienced first hand in order to be appreciated. What we felt were mortifying situations in our youth suddenly become amusing anecdotes as we grow older and lines like, "her mouth dropped open like a glove compartment door with a broken latch" present a visual that many of us who owned "vintage" used cars can relate to. Although a complete departure from the tone and subject matter of his other works, Wally Lambs recounting of Felix's life lessons is nevertheless a heartwarming and amusing diversion and well worth the few hours of your time it takes to read. 3 1/2 stars