The year is 1983, and twenty-year-old Allie is living in that gray area between adolescence and adulthood. In some ways, she’s been forced to fend for herself since she was young and her mother left the family in order to join a semi-popular band as the tambourine girl, while she stayed behind with her emotionally-uncommunicative father. Yet Allie still retains a level of naivete, and coupled with an inability to stand up for herself, she is unprepared for the wild series of events that await her after one spontaneous, fateful decision. Jessica Anya Blau brings this wacky story to life in The Wonder Bread Summer.
Right from the first page, sex and drugs are introduced as two major players in the wild storyline, and eventually even rock-and-roll gets a chance to shine, too. The fateful decision that inspires the novel’s title involves Allie’s unplanned swiping of a Wonder Bread bag full of very high-quality cocaine from her crooked boss at the dress shop that isn’t so much a dress shop as it is an illegal drug dispensary. Allie’s boss owed her months of back pay, and she needs the money desperately, thanks to the loan she gave her boyfriend… shortly before he lost it all and dumped her. That loan was from her college money, and if she doesn’t get her tuition paid soon, then she will be forced to leave school. Seriously, nothing is going this girl’s way.
As a result of her own high, after being strong-armed into doing the cocaine in question by the shady boss, Allie flees with the bag, thinking that it must certainly be able to cover what her boss owes her. She has no idea about the actual value– much, much higher than she had thought– and she certainly didn’t expect to soon be on the run from a hitman named Vice Versa, borrowing her best friend’s car to make her way through Los Angeles in an attempt to rectify the situation. Allie’s situation only gets worse before it can start to get better, and the crazy collection of people she comes into contact with include a paralyzed porn producer with a fierce sense of humor, his driver whose family man status belies a serious set of street smarts, a scheming surfer looking to take advantage, and an 80s rock star whose presence in the novel is just one of many sources of absurd humor.
Obviously, readers have to be prepared for some explicit content with the sexual and drug-related passages. For me, this content helped to lay the groundwork for the over-the-top nature of the story. With each step, or misstep, that Allie takes on her wild journey, whatever could go wrong seems to do just that, and the more preposterous, the better. This is a quick read, fueled by fast-paced action and colorful characters who are strangely endearing at times, and often crazily amusing. And the rock star! His inclusion in the story, and the way in which he is portrayed, made me laugh out loud.
The Wonder Bread Summer may not be for the faint at heart, but for readers who give it a go, expect the unexpected and be prepared for some laughs at the outrageous course of events in store with each new chapter.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the review copy of this book. Check out the link to read other reviewers’ thoughts on the book!