Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review - The Wonder Bread Summer by Jessica Anya Blau (5/5)

[The following review is part of the The Wonderbread Summer blog tour managed by TLC Book Tours.  The book reviewed was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  For a full list of host blogs for the tour, see the tourpage.  For more on Jessica Anya Blau and her work, visit her website, www.jessicaanyablau.com.]

By Jessica Veter

It was advice I received from an author who, when asked how he improved his own writing skills, said that he never read anything in the genre in which he wrote. It was too easy, he said, to turn out photocopies of what had already been written.

So when I read the blurb of Jessica Anya Blau’s The Wonder Bread Summer, I figured this would take me as far from my chosen genre as anything else I’d read in the last six months. But when I began squirming on page 1, I began to wonder if I, at 42, was too young (too old??) to read this kind of thing. But read it I did, and squirm, and shake the book as if it were the shoulders of the protagonist, all the while yelling: “What are you thinking, young lady!?”

In short, I adored it.

The Wonder Bread Summer is about Allie, 20-years-old and testing the waters of adulthood. Like any of us, she makes some bad choices. Me, I went door-to-door selling environmental awareness; Allie, however, works in a shop which is a front for a drug dealer. Not having been paid her wages, Allie takes what she’s owed in the form of a bread bag full of cocaine. Now, a hit man named Vice Versa is after her and she’s trying out one bad decision after another.

A dishonest surfer, a porn producer confined to a wheelchair, his driver and a famous musician are all part of what it takes to get Allie sorted in the end. Blau tells her story with energy, wit and a delightful black humour that had me laughing out loud (in between cringing). Sure, I wanted to give Allie a smack, but mostly I was cheering her on, willing her to come to the end of the book in one piece and with her spirit intact.

A surprising, rollicking read. Take this one to the cottage this summer, fill it with sand, leave sangria stains on the cover and linger over every word. Then give it to your best friend.

No hesitation. 5 stars.


About the Author:  Jessica Anya Blau is a graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, and John Hopkins University. She is the author of The Summer of Naked Swim Parties and Drinking Closer to Home. Her short stories have won or been nominated for many awards. She now lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Personally, I think it’s a shame she left Toronto.

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About the Reviewer:  Jessica Veter is a novelist raised in rural Ontario. Having escaped to Toronto, she spent the 90’s over-educating herself at York University and then the University of Toronto. Once she accepted that there were never going to be any job listings in The Globe and Mail headed “Medievalist Wanted”, Jessica went to Japan. There, she met her husband and they lived in England before returning to Canada with a son and a greyhound.  Now in rural Flamborough, Jessica and her husband raise 3 boys, 6 chickens and are owned by 1 dog. You are welcome to visit her at www.jessicaveter.com.

14 comments:

  1. Wow! So glad you loved it! Protagonists that you simultaneously love and have to look at with one eye closed because you worry about what they'll do next are so much fun.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

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