Book Review: The Soul City Salvation by Jonathan LaPoma

***I received a free copy and am voluntarily giving an honest review***

Ten months–that’s how long twenty-six-year-old writer and aspiring actor Jay Sakovsky decides to stay and teach in the bohemian beach town of Soul City, California, to save up cash and overcome his anxiety before moving on to Hollywood.

But after several “friendly chats” with the vice principal about hangover sweats and black eyes from barroom brawls, Jay sees a therapist who helps him connect his self-destructive tendencies and artistic blocks to his undiagnosed OCD, setting him on a ten-year healing journey that drives him to near madness as he explores the limits of his heart, creativity, and psyche.

A surreal, darkly comic, and psychologically epic novel, The Soul City Salvation explores mental illness, friendship, aging, masculinity, modern love, the creative process, spiritual awakening, and fighting for respect in an uncaring world.

*The Soul City Salvation is the fifth book in a loosely-linked series, with Hammond, The Summer of Crud, Understanding the Alacrán, and Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story as books one-four. Each novel can be read independently of the others.

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I enjoyed this contemporary drama. It was written in Jay’s first-person point of view. Jay had OCD, anxiety, and depression—things I could relate to as a reader. In fact, some scenes when he was younger helped me understand the actual things I had been going through as a kid and teenager. My moodiness and “dark” thoughts could be linked to my OCD back then.

Jay stayed on Doug’s couch in California to live out his dreams as a musician or actor. Instead, he ended up becoming a teacher. When Jay and Doug had a fallen out, I was curious to see if they would repair their friendship. I was disappointed when that storyline sort of fizzled out. Doug had a temper. I had been expecting more conflict.

My favorite lines: 1) “I knew that the old me had to die.” 2) “Our dreams consumed the reality of our love.” 3) “Just as I’d had to make peace with death, I also had to make peace with isolation.” 4) “A part of me wanted to self-destruct. It was easier that way.” 5) “You shut them all out. You think anyone’s ever gonna give a fuck about you again?”

I loved when Silas, an old childhood friend, visited California to see Jay. It was nice to see Jay have good moments in his life instead of focusing on just the bad. The story sort of read like a journal. There was a lot of telling instead of showing when it came to character interactions. I would have loved to see the full extent of Jay’s romantic dates or his friendships in Mexico. I felt bad for Jay how his coworkers bullied him. Usually I love bittersweet or depressing endings, but I was really hoping for Jay to get the last laugh. Did he? You’ll have to read to find out.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Soul City Salvation by Jonathan LaPoma

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