Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review: "The Wonder Bread Summer" by Jessica Anya Blau

Title: The Wonder Bread Summer
Author: Jessica Anya Blau
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Date Published: May 28, 2013
Pages: 288 pages

How I Heard About It: TLC Book Tours and the publisher kindly provided an advance reader's copy for review, in conjunction with Jessica Anya Blau's online tour. 

Two Sentence Summary: Berkeley college student Allie finds herself in a bind when she steals a Wonder Bread bag full of uncut cocaine from her skeezy boss Jonah, who owes her a great deal of money, so that she can pay her tuition.  When Jonah sicks his thug crew on Allie, she flees to Los Angeles to track down her absentee parents and finds herself in a series of increasingly unfortunate events.

You can find more info here, here and here.

Jessica Anya Blau
Things I Think: There is a whole lot going on here in terms of plot. Stolen drugs, Billy Idol backstage hook-ups, giant birds falling out of the sky, lousy friends and lousier parents, a coke-addicted paraplegic porn mogul overdosing in the back of a van... There is certainly an entertainment quality in the rapid turnover of (literally) unbelievable events that transpire. 

This unbelievability, however, is what lessened the impact of "The Wonder Bread Summer." I don't mean unbelievable in the Coleridge-ian sense, in that I was "unable to suspend my disbelief." I "suspended" all through the first few chapters, let myself ride the chaotic waves the author set in motion. But the wildness of the plot, the sheer randomness of the characters' behavior, so drives the book that it overwhelmed any opportunity for me to connect to the characters. 

I think I would have enjoyed this more had there been more three dimensionality to the humans about which Blau writes. Allie could be a fascinating protagonist, were we granted a bit more insight into her choices, her interior monologue. As it is, I have trouble understanding how a girl that is solidly characterized as rather tame and pretty responsible so rapidly veers into a drug-snatching hot mess that has sex with Billy Idol backstage on a whim. Again, not totally out of the realm of possibilities, but as a reader I need to see how and why a huge transition like this occurs. 

I'm sure this book will find an accepting audience; after all, it is chaotic with the potential to be shocking. I went into this with high (pun intended) hopes for a unique view of 1970s California and some substance to go with the flash, and sadly did not find it. 


Meg @ write meg! said...

Sorry to hear this wasn't a hit with you! I really enjoyed it, though I see where you're coming from regarding the sheer randomness of some of the plot elements. I wouldn't say I ever felt like I got to know Allie, but for some reason it didn't bother me? I don't know. Normally bonding with our lead is essential to my enjoyment of a story, somehow it worked in this case.

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour even though it wasn't the right book for you.