Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Wonder Bread Summer by Jessica Anya Blau

"As the silver Honda slipped into the never-ending weave of cars, Allie turned and saw Jonas, naked except for his socks, running toward her." I paused after I read that sentence. I wasn't using a piece of scratch paper as a bookmark as I usually do, and I got up to get a pen and paper to make sure I didn't forget about it. It contains all the major themes of The Wonder Bread Summer--cars, questionable choices, frenetic-paced action, and weird sexual interactions. It implies that the protagonist is the girl--probably a young girl, her name is Allie, and that she is being pursued. If you were to distill Wonder Bread down to one sentence, it would essentially be this sentence.

Wonder Bread takes off like a rocket with the very first page [questionable choice] [weird sexual interaction]. For the next 259 pages, Allie is on the run [cars] and doing all that she can to stay alive [frenetic-paced action]. In her quest to continue living, Allie reunites with her aging-groupie mother, grows a little closer to her father, and even has sex with a punk rock star [questionable choice]. Wonder Bread really doesn't let up until the last page.

My fiance read Wonder Bread before I did, and said she wasn't sure that I would like it. She said that it reminded her of the steamrolling adventures that Carl Hiaasen writes. I have never read anything written by Carl Hiaasen, but my fiance assures me that the comparison is apt, so I thought I would pass it on. Despite my fiance's doubts, I really enjoyed this book. Wonder Bread was a fun, well-paced romp along the West Coast of 1983.

The cover Wonder Bread does it no favors. It conveys none of the absurdity present on nearly every page of this, Jessica Anya Blau's third novel. A book with a back-flap synopsis that describes it as being "loosely based on Alice in Wonderland" needs cover art that conveys the same.


Meg @ write meg! said...

Agree that some whacky cover art could really help to highlight all the madcap adventures in this one! I really enjoyed it, too -- much more than I even thought I would -- and have been thinking about Allie in all her craziness since finishing this one last weekend!

Carlton Farmer said...

I looked up Blau's other two novels, and it looks like they chosen this as a theme for the cover art for her books. Regardless, I think the cover art is unfortunate.
Really enjoyed the book though.

Brent Waggoner said...

The whole cover thing reminds me of this article I read a few days ago:

Books written by women, especially YA books, get really crappy covers.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you were pleasantly surprised by this one!

Thanks for being a part of the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

Brittany said...

Cover art and women authors is super not awesome. I went to a panel ("Not Your Grama's Jane Austen") that featured all female authors and the cover art conflict took up a surprising amount of time as I was completely unaware outside of my own time stocking shelves at BN.

The authors said they had to repeatedly fight against Tiffany Blue, desserts, disembodied women (easier for the female reader to place herself in the place of the picture if she doesn't have a clear face), jewelry, shoes, etc. The publishers want to make money, and the money is in targeting the predominately-female-casual reader with the things that focus groups show women are drawn to.

I totally skipped this review the first time just based on the cover image, to be perfectly honest. Now I'm intrigued!