Wally Lamb Reviews: Wishin’ and Hopin’ & I’ll Take You There

I have to start off by saying, I am a huge fan of Wally Lamb’s writing!  She’s Come Undone is one of my favourite novels, followed closely by This Much Is True I have read the former book a few times, and twice for the latter, as the next novel would not be published for over a decade.  As soon as his third novel, The Hour I First Believed was published I had a hold on it at the library.  It is another massive book but I read it within four days.  I enjoyed the novel but felt at times it just went on and on for too long.  Five years later, We Are Water was published.  I would hold out until February 2015, so I could read it with my book club.  Unfortunately, this was not the book to introduce to first time readers of Lamb.  I read this novel with four days as well and enjoyed it, but this one also went on for too long.  With the novella, Wishin’ and Hopin’ and the follow-up novel, I’ll Take you There I was truly at a loss on what I thought of these books.  I am hoping by the time I finish this review I will have clear number of stars.

8152697WISHIN’ AND HOPIN’ (Felix Funicello: #1) Written by Wally Lamb

2009; 268 Pages (Harper Collins)

Genre: holidays, historical fiction, humour, fiction

RATING: ★★1/2

Wishin’ and Hopin’ is more of a novella so it is a quick read.  This quirky story is about a fifth grader, Felix Funicello and his family, in the 1960s.

First of all, I do not understand why this novella is a “Christmas” story.  The only part of the book that deals with Christmas is the towards the end.  And, even then I didn’t really get a sense of the “holiday feeling”.  There is some humour in this novel which is what really kept me reading the book.  I also liked the historical aspects of this novel, but at times it became too cliched.  I rated this novella so low because it felt more like a holiday promotional story than with real heart.

 

30363103I’LL TAKE YOU THERE (Felix Funicello: #2) Written by Wally Lamb

2016; 272 Pages (Harper Collins)

Genre: holidays, historical fiction, humour, fiction

RATING: ★★★

The issue I had with the last two full-length novels by Lamb was that at times the book felt too long.  When I saw that this book was less than 300 pages I thought this may be the next She’s Come Undone.  I read the novella (Wishin’ and Hopin’) first as I knew it was a prequel in a way.  I liked the character of Felix so was looking forward to an older Felix in I’ll Take You There.  In this novel, Felix is middle-aged, divorced with a 20-something daughter and a film scholar.  As he is dealing with the present, he also visits his past with some ghosts that appear to him.  There are a lot of things happening in this book but no overall arc to talk about.  And, I still had the same issue as the novels mentioned above.  I feel like while this novel is short it still has parts that seem to have no cohesion in the overall novel.  I did like Felix’s relationship with his daughter, Aliza which I think would have made a great story.  I also liked the story of France – which is what I think the novel should have been mostly about and told from her point of view (he writes women so well, I wish he would write them more often).  And, the feminism that runs through this book makes it worth the read.  I gave this novel a three for those reasons.  I would say…this is a book for fans of Wally Lamb.  It is exciting to see his writing, but it feels more like a few first drafts sewn together.  There is so much talent in this man, I will read any novel by him, even if I a forewarned it is not great. And, P.S. the cover to this novel is gorgeous!

 

 

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