The Wonder Bread Summer: A Novel

( 12 )

Overview

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!

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The Wonder Bread Summer

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Overview

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!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Allie’s obedient nature served her well through a turbulent childhood, but also led to trouble: her unsavory ex-boyfriend made off with her Berkeley scholarship money and she’s about to be dropped from enrollment and evicted from her apartment. Her sleazy boss, Jonas, hasn’t paid her in two months for her work at his dress shop, and when she discovers he’s dealing cocaine out of the back of the shop, she gets an idea. No sooner does the book begin than Allie is on the run with a Wonder Bread bag full of stolen coke and a very angry Jonas on her heels. Trying to stay one step ahead of him and his heavy, Vice Versa, Allie goes to Los Angeles and gets help from an unlikely assortment of people new and old—including a quadriplegic pornographer; ’80s rocker Billy Idol; and Allie’s erstwhile father. In trying to untangle the mess she’s in, Allie might finally learn how to stand up for herself. Blau’s (Drinking Closer to Home) madcap chase through 1980s L.A. is over-the-top, and Allie’s trajectory is predictable, but the journey is too much fun to dwell on contrived plot points. A liberal dose of dark humor and an oddly heart-warming ending add to the twisted ride. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents Inc. (June)
Booklist
“Raunchy, poignant, and triumphant in turn—and sometimes manages to be all three at the same time.”
Christopher Moore
“A fun read! Even before the buzzard hits the windshield, THE WONDER BREAD SUMMER will make you feel better about your worst summer vacation.”
Nick Hornby
“Picaresque, properly funny, unpredictable and altogether irrepressible...[Blau] reminds me of [Charles] Portis in a lot of ways . . . [S]he has a steady nerve, as well as a wicked imagination, and she takes her craft seriously... Top-notch comic writing.”
Deborah Reed
“A rollicking, irreverent, sweep of a novel. Blau has written another shining, no-holds barred California heart breaker.”
Jon Michaud
“Jessica Anya Blau has taken the story of a young woman’s search for self and rendered it into a hilarious, cocaine-fueled thrill-ride. From its Tarantino-esque opening scene to its twisty final pages, THE WONDER BREAD SUMMER is an unrelenting delight.”
Jessica Keener
“Jessica Anya Blau returns with all the comedic powers of a master trickster.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“It’s hard to recall a debut as warm, charming and comically satisfying as The Summer of Naked Swim Parties . . . Blau conveys Jamie’s world with compelling insight and wit . . . [Blau’s] sharp observation and affectionate humor [give] surprising depth to this shimmering novel.”
Larry Doyle
“This book will make you laugh and cry in public. Jessica Anya Blau has written a soaring teenage lament, perfectly pitched, containing the single saddest and funniest line of seduction ever uttered.”
Boston Globe
“A book by Blau would be disappointing without pot smoking, hilarious and sometimes grungy sex, and bickering relatives.”
Matthew Klam
“Often hilarious and lewd, and also sincere and moving, like the naughty Southern Californian soul mate of Nick Hornby.”
Paula Bomer
“Blau has crafted a totally uniqu coming of age story, wrapped in a road trip, with a drug caper center. It’s a wild, exuberant novel, full of humor, heart, and a solid dose of bad behavior. I loved it.”
Michael Downs
“No one writes like Jessica Anya Blau. Funny, tender, and outrageous.”
Leora Skolkin-Smith
“Jessica Anya blau has the gift of creating people we feel and know as familiar, and then showing us how much we don’t know them at all.”
Mary Kay Zuravelff
“This novel is addictive! I was hooked the moment straight-arrow Allie steals a bread bag full of blow...You won’t be able to look away.”
Laura van den Berg
“Jessica Anya Blau’s The Wonder Bread Summer is a lightning strike of a novel, sexy and dangerous and aglow with adventure. Allie is a tenacious and deliciously complicated heroine, and it’s impossible to resist the ride she takes you on.”
Matthew Norman
“This is as fast, fun, and outrageous a book as I’ve read in a long time. But beneath all the antics is a poignant story about racial identity, fathers and daughters, and coming of age in one totally messed-up decade.”
Tania James
“In The Wonder Bread Summer, Jessica Anya Blau sends us tumblin down a rabbit hole of youthful mistakes and heartache, alongside the unsinkable Allie Dodgson. Coming of age has never been so wickedly thrilling.”
Madison Smartt Bell
The Wonder Bread Summer is the best ever! It even made me a little jealous and that doesn’t happen often.”
Kirkus Reviews
1983 is like, a bummer, man, in this hazy quasi-comedy about sex, blow and what's next. No stranger to the unique strain of adolescent nostalgia for California after her similarly themed debut, The Summer of Naked Swim Parties, Blau (Drinking Closer to Home, 2011, etc.) goes over the top, sometimes very uncomfortably, with this druggie blast from the past. Set in the Los Angeles glory days of hair, metal and valley porn, the author designs quite the odd duck to center her gray comedy. When we open on shiftless Berkeley college student/remind-us-yet-one-more-time-she's-Jewish-biracial-Asian--wait, she has a name, it's Allie Dodgson. Anyway, the girl is not doing so hot. She loaned a bunch of money to her dreamy boyfriend, who promptly broke up with her. To make ends meet, Allie is working in a crappy dress shop in Oakland with her BFF Beth, snorting coke and trying to avoid the antagonistic penis of her masturbatory employer Jonas. Unfortunately for her, tuition and the rent are both due, and Jonas isn't giving up her paycheck without a fight. In a fit of pique, Allie swoops up a Wonder Bread bag full of high-octane cocaine, and she's off on her After Hours-esque misadventure. There are a lot of bad decisions, a lot of poorly made decisions and a lot of kooky characters to keep Allie rolling and tumbling. "I want to go back to school next summer," Allie says. "I want to stay in Berkeley and graduate with honors. I want to return this car to my friend Beth. I don't want to be a coke-snorting thief." There's a bit of lost-girl syndrome as Allie tries to reconnect with her rock-star mother and her absentee father. But tastes will vary--between the paraplegic porn producer and Allie shagging Billy Idol (seriously), most readers will have made up their minds one way or another. Meant to be Alice in Wonderland by way of Boogie Nights, the book comes off more like vintage Tarantino performed by HBO's Girls.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062199553
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/2013
  • Series: P.S.
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 260
  • Sales rank: 945,543
  • Product dimensions: 5.46 (w) x 7.82 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jessica Anya Blau is the author of the nationally bestselling novel The Summer of Naked Swim Parties and the critically acclaimed Drinking Closer to Home.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(4)

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(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    If Carl Hiaasen lived in California instead of Florida, he may h

    If Carl Hiaasen lived in California instead of Florida, he may have written a book like Jessica Anya Blau's The Wonder Bread Summer.
    Set in 1983, when I was a few years older than the protagonist Allie Dodgson, the story takes place in Berkeley and Los Angeles. The story opens a bang, with 20 year-old Allie trapped in the back room of the clothing store she works in by the owner Jonas, who is trying to get Allie to snort some coke and take her clothes off. Yeah, it's that kind of book.
    Jonas has not paid Allie the wages she is owed, and Allie needs the money or she will be thrown out of college, so Allie takes the Wonder Bread bag filled with coke and runs away. Maybe the coke she snorted altered her judgement, but she does not turn back. Her plan is to borrow her friend Beth's car, and sell enough coke to make the money Jonas owes her. Then she will return the rest of the coke to Jonas and all will be cool.
    Well, that was the plan. She finds a surfer who wants to buy some of the coke, but she has no idea how much to sell it for. She goes home to her father's restaurant in LA, only to find it closed. Her mother is a groupie for a has-been rock band, and wants to share the coke with the band.
    Allie goes on a double date with Beth and ends up almost overdosing her date- Roger, a paraplegic porn producer. Jonas has dispatched someone to kill Allie and get his coke back, but thank goodness Roger and his kindly minions are there to help her.
    Oh yeah, and Allie meets 80s rocker Billy Idol and has a romantic sexual experience with him. (Blau's characterization of Idol is charming. He should sent her a nice gift basket as a thank you.)
    There is a wacky premise, a chase across California, guns, drugs, sex, surfer dudes who want the coke, dysfunctional parenting, Allie's Chinese grandmother's wise sayings sprinkled in, and a very nice Hispanic family whom Allie contemplates moving in with permanently. If any of this sounds like something you find funny, then you will enjoy The Wonder Bread Summer.  It did remind me of Carl Hiaasen, with its cast of comic characters, some involved in criminal matters.
    I laughed my way through this novel, and it's a great, quick beach read. I finished it in two days poolside. It's not a book for everyone, but if you are not easily offended, you'll laugh too. When you finish it, you'll want to listen to Billy Idol while craving some of Consuela's yummy pan de yema and hot chocolate.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 29, 2013

    I do not really know what to think of my reading. The synopsis

    I do not really know what to think of my reading.

    The synopsis let me believe that I will read a story about a crazy, fun road trip with some suspense and a dangerous chase.
    In my head, I imagined finding a mix between "The Hangover" and the strange "Las Vegas parano."

    Well in reality, it's not so funny... A student who makes a bad decision, under the influence. She steals a bag of cocaine, then flees. In her footsteps, a hitman hired to retrieve the drugs for his boss. The reader also encounters more than surprising characters along her trip.
    Allie does not seem aware of the crap in which she is... So, with the cocaine, she goes in search of her family whose situation is complex.

    Her mother has some Asian blood in herself and has left the marital home to play the tambourine in a group. Her father is black and is reopening of a restaurant in a little shady conditions.


    A strange story, full of stoned people, who did not moved or amused me. Anyway, I did not join but I have noted that the style is pleasant to read, I just have not been embedded in history.

    Lucie
    newbooksonmyselves.blogspot.fr

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2013

    Really

    fun book,,probably for the 20-30 something women

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2013

    I read this book almost in one sitting (had to sleep, then woke

    I read this book almost in one sitting (had to sleep, then woke up the next day). THRILLING, funny and full of oddball characters that feel SO TRUE TO LIFE! The is the best book I've read in a long, long time!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2014

    Horrible book

    This book is basically hard corn porn. It is full of disgusting characters with absolutely no redeeming value. What a complete waste of money. BARF.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 17, 2014

    Different, not in a bad way

    I'm still kind of chewing on this book, trying to begin to digest where the author wanted us to go. It was a crazy ride, with cocaine wielding dress shop owners, friends who are less than reliable, absentee mothers, fathers who are fearful of phones, famous pornography producers in wheelchairs, and his hired men. It was a lot to take in, but I did let myself be taken in by this book and tried to enjoy the ride the author was taking me on.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 9, 2013

    California summer in the 1980¿s was all I needed to hear but the

    California summer in the 1980’s was all I needed to hear but then there was more to entice me: A Wonder Bread bag full of cocaine, guns, surfing, and Chinese granny. Wai Po’s sayings takes this book into the sublime. Great fun to be had in its pages. 

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2014

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    Posted December 8, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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