Jonathan LaPoma

Author / Screenwriter

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Barnes & Noble Press Presents pick, February/March 2018

The 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.

Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist, 2018

Barnes & Noble Press Presents list selection, February/March 2018

-Amazon Hot New Release (UK)

“A slender, fast-paced, fever-dreamed excursion . . . undeniably addictive.”

Kirkus Reviews, Recommended Review

“Like a bad trip–€”filthy in all sorts of ways, yet weirdly endearing.”

-Yuliya Geikhman, US Review of Books

“Unique . . . extraordinary . . . A pot-smoking, paradigm-changing journey that brings readers along for a wild ride . . .”

-Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

“Not a light read . . . LaPoma paints a gritty picture of struggling young adults, living moment to moment, overwhelmed by adulthood. Dan’s demons are present on every page and readers that suffer from anxiety or depression are likely to connect with his struggle for belonging and self-acceptance . . . Dan’s inner voice speaks loudly to the difficulty many face on life’s winding road.”

Red City Review

“A classic story destined to find its home in reading groups across the nation.”

-Lisa McCombs, Readers’ Favorite, 5 Stars

“I couldn’t help but recall my first impressions of Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine . . . We see past the golden sunlight to the street kids with their broken dreams, to the panhandling in the Haight and the ghost of Kurt Cobain haunting the streets of Seattle . . . Danny’s odyssey, his metaphorical Summer of Love, is both marred and enhanced by the reality of his physical condition and that of the world. At once unworldly and preternaturally wise, he sees past the trappings into a reality that is not entirely unexpected considering his life up to that point . . . most highly recommended.”

-Jack Magnus, Readers’ Favorite, 5 Stars

“Though The Summer of Crud is short, MAN is it deep! This narrative is chock full of harsh observances of human nature and insecurity . . . One of those books that is so full of incredible quotes that rather than sharing a few I might as well just give anyone a copy of the book and say “Here, read this; I really love it . . . like The Perks of Being a Wallflower’s grungy older brother.”

-Audrey L, Netgalley Reviewer

“Definitely weird, but enjoyably so . . . A daring piece of work.”

-Marjorie H, Books & Tea Cups

“Disturbingly deep, hypnotizing. I couldn’t stop reading it even if I wanted.”

Atiqah M, Bookmarks & Blue Light

“A thoughtful, well-written book, short, sweet and straight to the point . . . Not for the faint hearted . . . The ending was good – simple, real and convincing.”

-Cyan Night, Goodreads Reviewer

“Takes adventure and art to a whole other level . . . He gets into some deep shit and it will hit you . . . it really reached a part of my soul that’s hard to get to . . . You have to read this.”

-Ash the Bookworm

“Twisted enough to be intriguing, but not so much that it’s a turnoff . . . A deep, unique, extremely well-presented narrative of self-awareness while declining into mental illness.”
Book Bangs
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A Novel by Jonathan LaPoma

Understanding the Alacran

Silver Medal Winner of the 2017 FAPA President's Awards

Trying to escape the oppression leading him to drinking, drugs, and despair, 22-year-old William James rejects a teaching position offer at a prestigious Buffalo high school and moves to Mexico to find freedom in its beaches, mountains, and culture.

But soon, this freedom becomes oppressive as well as William finds himself unable to avoid the pull of the wild party scene in the small town of Lila where he lives. He continues a downward spiral until he meets a complex and compassionate Mexican woman whose love inspires him to face the question he’s been avoiding: Is this trip a desperate search for life or a slow death?

A dark but humorous coming-of-age novel, UNDERSTANDING THE ALACRÁN explores many of the questions that haunt young people searching for love and their place in this world, and offers a poetic look at the raw beauty and healing power of Mexico.


-#1 Amazon Best Seller (Metaphysical, Metaphysical & Visionary, and Religious & Inspirational Kindle categories)

-Silver Medal Winner of the 2017 Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s Awards (contemporary/literary category)

LaPoma obviously knows Mexico well, framing the nation not by its problems but by the hearts of its people . . . the descriptions of Mexican locales are as vibrant, colorful, and illuminating as the novel’s unique characters . . . shows an understanding of Mexico that goes beyond the ordinary.

–Kirkus Reviews 

I loved Understanding the Alacran . . . Beautifully written, funny, moving and all-round wonderful . . . My very highest recommendation.

–Chris Fischer, Readers Favorite, 5 Stars

An appealing, engrossing story that moves beyond the traditional coming of age approach to add social and cultural concerns into the mix . . . Given the latest state of affairs between the U.S. and Mexico . . . makes it an especially relevant, timely read.

–Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

Unique and accessible . . . brilliant story that explores the evil of drugs, a man’s struggle for freedom, and redemption through love . . . the finish is awesome.

–Divine Zape, Readers Favorite, 5 Stars

Readers will also love the compelling characters and the way the author captures Mexican culture, its beautiful setting with its smells and sounds in this inspiring tale . . . a wonderful coming-of-age story.

–Arya Fomonyuy, Readers Favorite, 4 Stars

The writing is engaging, with the right flow and a dose of dark humor to make it an enjoyable read that I would recommend.
Add Understanding the Alacran as a book "To Read" on your Goodreads shelf

Understanding the Alacran
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