The Summer of Crud by Jonathan LaPoma

37120010The summer after graduating from college, 22-year-old Danny Wolinski takes a cross-country US road trip with his friend, Ian Perez, hoping to find the inspiration to reach his songwriting potential, start a band, and avoid student teaching in the fall.

Danny is tormented by intense physical and psychological pain and sees music as his only relief, but the more he searches for this inspiration in an America filled with endless parties, heavy drugs, and lost souls, the more he questions whether it exists.

A deeply disturbing and psychological coming-of-age novel, THE SUMMER OF CRUD explores the complexities of friendships, masculinity, sex, mental illness, and addiction, and shows how the quest to unlock one’s creativity can both inspire and destroy a person.

Source Format Pages Publisher Genre Publication Date
NetGalley ebook 148 Almendro Arts Contemporary / Coming of Age February 20th, 2018

OK, guys… I am sorry for the below review… this book had me in knots… it still does…

Basically… this book is about a dude, tender age of 22, who has a summer of freedom to escape the start of a teaching job in the autumn and he decided to escape the boring, bland adulting by digging deep and popping out some top chart songs by going on a road trip. Sounds good- ever young person’s dream. Trek across a country, in this case, the great US of A, bang out lyrics and tunes, and become rich without having to, you know, be a teacher or something equally boring as that because free souls be free souls! And I can totally understand that! What could be more exciting, hey? 22, free as a bird, tents, guitars, canned food and plenty of people to meet, experiences to experience.

But I figured Ian was searching for the same thing I was: something lost. Something buried way deep down. The Spirit of the Sixties. Peace. Love. Freedom of expression. The completion of all our half-written melodies. 

Yep, it would have been pretty good if, indeed this whole trip our main character Danny would have been with ANYONE else other than Ian. Because Ian, I found, is the highest level of a mofo. What an arse! Friendship? It was more like a parasitism, whereby Ian used Danny as his personal dumping ground of excessive feelings and insults.

Most beginnings were messy, whether in relationships or conversations or road trips, and I knew shit would balance out.

So, the two dudes hop into a car and off they go, towards California from Buffalo. They smoke a whole pile of weed, make pitstops with various friends of Ian’s, drink, smoke, drink, smoke, chase skirts and throughout the whole time Ian is a complete crap friend to Danny. Making fun of him in front of others, teasing him, and generally treating him like shit stuck to his shoe. Hated it. BUT! Ian is an alfa and has a bit of a temperament so fair play- he is what he is… but Danny… gosh, he just takes it lying down, you know? It made me uncomfortable and sad…

Anywhoo…seeing as Danny is on a pursuit of spiritual awakening when it comes to music as his only saviour and passion, I get it- sometimes you gotta make sacrifices to escape the impending doom, and if that means putting up with Ian, so be it.

And I’d rather live in a real world full of anger and abuse than a fantasy world of rainbows and unicorns. 

It is most certainly a fact that I missed the point of this book. Fact. The Summer of Crud seems successful in talking to a certain audience (going by some existing reviews), but it didn’t fully speak to me. We’re all wired differently so whatever pushes our buttons, right?!

I could understand the mental anguish Danny was going through, and separately, I could understand his physical pain as well. These two put together? Yes, absolutely possible but what a contrast to have! Again, it makes e sad! I mean, we’re talking about music, which is like the lifeline of the majority of the population. We all relate, we sing, dance and laugh and cry to it… it lifts us up and brings us down. What a wonderful thing, music?! The skill of composing it, hearts bleeding on music sheets, fingers gliding over piano keys or guitar strings… or, em, drumsticks! 😉 And, sure, mix in a bit of booze and weed and acid and whoa, holy sweet revelation- the worlds open up! (This is not encouragement to pick your poison though! Stay clean!) 

You gotta do it now. There’s no time to waste. I gripped a toilet paper roll and gave my guts everything I had. Tears started to roll from my eyes. You’re disgusting! You’re evil! This filth- this filth is the Devil. God is watching you. 

And now to the part that talks about Danny’s physical pain. I would have enjoyed this book a bit more if I would have actually understood how Danny’s physical pain relates to all of this. If ever there was a link I needed to be spelled out for me in between the mental and physical aspect of struggles, this was the case. I mean, was he brought up religious and that was totally messing with his head and body? I don’t know! Is it all a pile-up of guilt that just blocks all of the inspirational waves, in turn shutting down the body? I didn’t 100% enjoy the book, no, but I keep mulling it over in my head… can someone explain to me how this is all so deep? The drugs, the booze, the bullying and crudeness? I just don’t get it… Is it because I am unable to relate fully to the whole of this book? *sigh*

You see, the thing is- there is mention of Danny’s past a bit- a girl he broke up with, but why? Was she the reason Danny developed toilet troubles? Or, is it Ian and his direct meanness towards Danny? Is it Danny’s mental block that makes him literally block his bowel movements? I just don’t know, and yet I can understand the mental side of it… a lot!

You have no idea hw powerful your brain is until it turns on you. Your brain is everything. Trust me. It’s everything. There’s nothing more isolating than insanity. 

It was never really tied up in the end. If there is mention of physical and/or illness, let’s talk about it instead of ignoring it by drinking whiskey. No? All this book addressed was that Danny had serious issues but there was no solution offered… Does there always have to be a solution? Some would say yes, some would say no… I feel like Danny needs help, still.. that he’s somewhere in real life and he needs someone to help him. This book messed with my head. Was that its intention? Sure, fiction is fiction, it doesn’t always all come wrapped up 100% with a cherry on top of the HEA. But this was quite shocking in parts, you know?

After all the fun, not so fun, mean and painful trip, the book just ends. And I flipped the device around in my hand to see if I am missing some digital pages… The ending was abrupt and I simply couldn’t believe it. But then I thought about it a bit more and I made myself create my own understanding of it all, which is this-

* no matter where you go, to escape the status quo, our heads including all our thoughts, will always come with us.

* Young or old, life is all about taking risks and trying something new. And sometimes, at the end of long emotional, physical journeys we find that we really don’t want this new thing or change anymore… and that’s completely OK, to change our minds. Sometimes we need to just go to the other side where the grass is greener to see it up close and change perspectives.

Yes, entirely deep in parts, entirely crud in others… and if the story would not have had the same repetition weaved into the flow of it all, I would have possibly loved it more. There was another element of this book that personally didn’t click with me, but it’s too much of a personal issue than a global point of view… so I won’t even bother mentioning it… if you really want to know, let’s chat in the comments. So there, my very conflicting thoughts having spent time with The Summer of Crud… if you’re up for a crazy road trip, check out this quick read and let me know what you think…

The Summer of Crud on Goodreads ¦ Amazon UK ¦ USA


  1. I’ve seen a number of people reading this lately. The synopsis really intrigued me, but then I saw people giving it 1 and 2 stars. I really like your review. I think I’m going to give this book a pass. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

        • Eeeek! Cool and THANK YOU for going for it… I just really think you might have quite strong opinions about it and I am sorry if you end up hating it, but you can totes blame me then and I can make it up to you with another book or smth! 🙂 *fist bump*

          Liked by 1 person

          • *misreads the fist bump situation and cowers in fear of being punched. Notices what is really going on and, with a nervous laugh, awkwardly attempts to high five the fist bump* One day. One day I will be one of the cool kids.

            Do you think I’m going to hate this? I’ll try and stay objective going in to it. I’ve read lots of mixed reviews. It seems to be a love or hate kinda story.

            Liked by 1 person

            • 😀 you already ARE one of the cool kids!

              Hmm, I am not too sure to be honest if you’re going to hate this.. you might… There is definitely one thing in it thet you’re not going to like which you pointed out happened in the comics of TEOTFW… and I think you won’t at all appreciate the ‘macho bullying’ but I would still be interested to see how you get along with it…

              Liked by 1 person

              • Oh dear. Lad culture and hate language/behaviour. Yeah. I may have an issue with it. 🙂

                I’m not necessarily completely against that kind of situation in books. As long as it is showing why it is wrong, or if there is some remorse shown for those actions.

                This is going to be an interesting read… XD


  2. Hmmm not a book that I would usually pick up and after having read your review for it, despite some apparent good parts too, I think the cons for me at least definitely outweigh the pros. So this one I am unfortunately going to avoid. Great review though 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • You see- I was so intrigued about the whole music being the saviour and all that jazz… alas… it just fell into the same old- drink, drugs, skirts and immature guys… mm… yeah. it was an odd one, indeed…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think your problem with not being able to find the “deepness” was because there actually wasn’t any, ha ha. The author knew all the words to give the story an outward appearance if being deep and philosophical, but there was actually no substance there. In one of my filmmaking classes, my study group came up with the term “through my legs” as a contrast to “over my head” for movies where the director made his film overly strange and bizarre for no reason other than to make people think it was deep and philosophical. Ha! We

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooops, posted before I was done… anyway when we were analyzing some of the weird Art films for class we would be trying to decide if the film had merit and was just going over our heads, or whether it was a fake-out and going through our legs. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, I love this!!! Thanks La La… I always learn something from you and it rocks my world. Really, thanks for telling me about this concept of ‘through the legs’ 🙂 Makes perfect sense and you’re right… what made me really doubt my mind was the fact that the good reviews all seem to praise the book for being so epic and deep and meaningful… I thought- wth is wrong with me that I am missing the point? But you’re right, in the end, there really is no real substance here… But I am glad I read it- it has taught me a lesson about something new, through you! 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        • The artisic director at the regional theater where my son performed put on a showcase every year called Sensory Perceptions for statement pieces and Performance Art. He always put a number in the show and it was comical because he had no clue what Performance Art was really about, he thought it was just putting weird random stuff on stage with no rhyme or reason. The last one I saw was he had a girl in toe shoes standing on pointe painting at an easel, while a boy in a pig mask sat on a bale of hay on the other side of the stage (but not in line-of-sight of the painter ballerina, so it wasn’t what she was painting) and had another girl dressed as a snake writhing around on the floor in the middle of the stage. The lighting technician said, “Geezus, Pat, what the fuck is that all about?” The AD just shrugged and walked away. We were talking about it in the dressing room and one of the choreographers laughed and said that the AD just wanted people to think he was “deep”, and I said it was more like theatrical masturbation. 😂

          Liked by 1 person

    • Mmm, it’s just one of those books that I really would like to get more of my blogging buddies thoughts on… but… it is somewhat… er… let’s just say I don’t think you would like certain elements of it and would go- Ew to the NO! who knows, maybe in the future you will go for it anyway and you can come and let me know your thoughts then 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Darn the premise sounded cool- and then it all went downhill from there 😉 (not your review, that was awesome, just the book doesn’t sound like my cup of tea *at all*) Ian sounds like such an arse- I hate people like that and understand why this didn’t push your buttons/pushed them in all the wrong ways- I feel like I’d have the same reaction with this. Honestly, this sounds like a lot of books I’ve read that are supposed to be deep too (I’m thinking on the road in particular) and I didn’t get them either. It’s good that you got some positive messages from it- but honestly I can’t see myself liking this either. Really amazing and thorough review!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! 🙂
      yeah, I don’t know what it is with the characters we dislike… in some books (genres?) they work really well by being their specific brand of dislikeable… in other cases it’s just impossible to even read one more word about them… but yeah, I do think you probably won;t like this book… it’s a kind of a … crud, hippy style and the culture of – yeahh, maaan, sh#t, maaan-type dialogue is just eyerollingly horrible! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I thought wow all these topics in one book… but then learned from your review that it was maybe all a bit too much because some of them were only skimmed or not even addressed properly. I know it’s not fun to read about two friends where there’s one acting as a leech but I’m afraid that happens more than you think so I wouldn’t mind the situation but I would have liked to read about some insights he has and some progress made towards the end and I don’t have the feeling that happened… Great review!


  6. I love you for your honesty (and a million other reasons haha)! Great review for having encountered such a miss. I started off thinking this sounds good and then you began discussing Ian and I was like.. holy feck this character would have me so bunched up I would even be able to see past him enough to appreciate any good moments. Passer for me.


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