Friday, August 16, 2013

Review: The Wonder Bread Summer

Summary: It's 1983 in Berkeley, California. Twenty-year-old Allie Dodgson is a straitlaced college student working part-time at a dress shop to make ends meet. But when the shop turns out to be a front for a dangerous drug-dealing business, Allie finds herself on the lam, speeding toward Los Angeles in her best friend's Prelude with a Wonder Bread bag full of cocaine riding shotgun and a hit man named Vice Versa on her tail. You can't find a more thrilling summer read! -- Harper Perennial

After enjoying DRINKING CLOSER TO HOME (my review) by Jessica Anya Blau a few years ago, I was excited to read her latest novel THE WONDER BREAD SUMMER. I thought the title was hilarious and it definitely piqued my interest. Plus, I think Ms. Blau is hilarious and I couldn't wait to see what "interesting" scenarios the characters in this book would encounter.

Unfortunately, my feelings for THE WONDER BREAD SUMMER weren't quite as positive as they were for DRINKING CLOSER TO HOME. I definitely didn't love it, and I actually felt as if the book read like a movie (which can be okay, but in this case, it wasn't.) If I'm being entirely honest, I'm not sure that there is anything necessarily "wrong" with this novel. Rather, it's just a case where I don't think I was the "right" audience for this story -- I actually felt really old while reading it.

THE WONDER BREAD SUMMER takes place in the early 1980s in Berkeley, California. Allie is a college student who works part-time at a dress shop; however, she discovers that the store might be more than just a dress shop. It's actually a front for drugs! Allie decides to get out, but first, she needs the money she is owed. When her boss refuses, Allie takes a Wonder Bread bag full of cocaine and runs. She heads to L.A. with a hit man chasing her the entire way, and her trip proves to be one huge adventure!

I really don't know what to say about THE WONDER BREAD SUMMER. It's a fast-moving, action-packed story that is larger than life. There is definitely some unique characters who do some very unusual things; and I guess I'd say that there is a lot of humor in the story too. In many ways, it reminded me a bit of a Tarentino movie, but maybe I just got that idea from the blurb on the front cover.

One thing I found special about this novel was Allie's memories of her grandmother's sayings. Allie's grandmother was Chinese and she lived by (and shared) a variety of proverbs. I loved her sage advice and I especially appreciated that the author included a listing of some of these Chinese proverbs in the back of the book!

Despite all of the craziness, I did appreciate that this story explored some real issues too. In many ways, THE WONDER BREAD SUMMER is a coming-of-age story for Allie. She goes from being pretty much a goodie two shoes to someone who is on the run from some pretty nasty characters. Her adventure not only forces her to do some growing up, but it also allows her to work through some issues pertaining to both of her parents as well as her racial identity.

THE WONDER BREAD OF SUMMER is a fast-paced coming-of-age story that is both funny and entertaining. It wasn't exactly my cup of tea, but I do think there are readers out there who will love it!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


Sandy Nawrot said...

Well, I do appreciate your honesty. I like fun and fast-paced but it has to connect with us in some way.

bermudaonion said...

I didn't love Drinking Closer to Home so I'm undecided if I'll try this one or not. I do love to read about the 1980's, though, so I may give it a shot.

Hey, I want to read that! said...

I did really like Drinking Closer to Home but I don't know about this one. I'll probably get around to it just not anytime soon.