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