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4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,785 Ratings  ·  613 Reviews
On a September night in 1971, a few days after getting busted for dropping acid, a sixteen-year-old curls up in the corner of her ratty bedroom and begins to write.
Now the truth can finally be revealed about the mysterious day long ago when the authorities found a child, calmly walking in the boiling desert, covered with blood.
The girl is Roberta Rohbeson, and her rant
Paperback, 305 pages
Published October 10th 2000 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1999)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 05, 2007 Donkeyballs rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
I'll never understand why drippy guys like Eggers and Franzen get such Oproid levels of attention for their emotion stuff, creeps like Klosterman and Self get fanboy appreciation for their dark violence, and most women writers get shunted (albeit loudly) into the chick lit ghetto, and yet Lynda Barry is still under our radar.

This book is powerful, stunning in its emotional depth, redolent of the dark corners of youth, violent and scary. Definitely not chick lit. Lynda Barry is probably the most
Jan 02, 2008 Eva rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
alyssa carver
Nov 15, 2014 alyssa carver rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: the teenage girl in you*
Shelves: favorites
it's hard to say why i love this book so much. nope--got it. it's because lynda barry captures the combination of anguish and delusional hope that is particular to adolescent girls who hate themselves and everyone else too but nonetheless maintain the powerful and naive belief that someday they will be loved. and in pursuit of that life-saving belief in love, they will scarifice themselves to almost anything.

sad? yes. but she makes it so funny, too, in spite of all the acid-tripping, kidnapping
Oct 21, 2007 James rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone with a strong stomach
I loved this book!! I've been meaning to read Barry for awhile and came across a copy of Cruddy and went for it. I don't know where to place this book. It's the story of a girl named Roberta who may very well of had the most miserable existence anyone could conjur up, and it unveils itself in a stream of off the wall disaster and heartbreaking realizations. Two narrative rn parallel to each other as Roberta accounts both from her "restricted life;" she's grounded. One narrative is the story of h ...more
Apr 28, 2016 smetchie rated it it was amazing
Recommended to smetchie by: Gloria
Oh my sakes!! Disturbing and beautiful in the best sort of twisted way! You could easily read this in one sitting and you probably should because I'm not sure how long you want to really spend in Roberta's cruddy world. It's all trippy and cosmic and painful and surreal and completely gross gross gross with a whirling cross-country (mis)adventure where every new character is a motherfucker of a fucker more deranged than the last. (which really shouldn't even be possible because the last one you ...more
Jan 11, 2008 Megan rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Megan by: Erin Finnegan, thanks a lot.
This is one of the most disturbing and grotesque books I've ever read, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I would have gotten more out of it if only I had at some point done a lot of psychotropic drugs. I can't say I enjoyed this book, but I was kind of amazed by it. I think the story and the characters are on a level of screwed up I am nowhere close to - and by the end of the novel I was really very grateful for that. This is a reading experience of shock and awe, maybe, then. I honestly can' ...more
Aug 04, 2009 Cindy rated it it was amazing
Cruddy is one of the best books ever written in the voice of a teenager. It is a nonstop, frenzied, can't-put-it-down kind of a book. The brilliance of the main character's voice is demonstrated in the very first paragraph of the very first page.

"When we first moved here, the mother took the blue-mirror cross that hung over her bed in our old house and nailed a nail for it in the new bedroom of me and my sister. Truthfully it is a cross I have never liked. The Jesus of it seems haunted.
Dec 26, 2007 Heather rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who were raised in trailers
Shelves: first-tier-reads
My brother and I read this book to each other outloud one christmas. If you grew up the same way I did, it will make you feel like you are normal. If you did not, for example, if you had a pool table, a home without wheels, or a kitchen table that was actually used - or if you otherwise had a parent who knew how to use the stove - this book might disturb you. You will think it is science fiction or fiction or otherwise improbable. It is not,
4.0 stars. With as much as I read, it is nice to come across a "one of a kind" read that doesn't feel like anything else you have read. This book certainly fits the bill and I highly recommend it...WITH A WARNING!! This is a dark and disturbing tale about a young, abused girl named Roberta who is on a psychotic road trip with her homicidal father after leaving the equally troubling home of abusive mother. There are NO NICE CHARACTERS IN THIS BOOK. That said, what is truly remarkable about the bo ...more
Bark's Book Nonsense
Sep 23, 2011 Bark's Book Nonsense rated it really liked it
Shelves: disturbing
I've read a lot of ugly things in my life but this book touches on a deeper level because of this young child's age and the horrors she endures daily in her truly "cruddy" life. If it weren't so darned sad it'd be almost funny. Wish this book had been around when I was 14 or so and my own life may not have looked quite so bleak to me after having read it. The author has a knack for digging into an adolescent's mind and really brings that painful period of time of young adulthood (those ugly year ...more
Jul 21, 2008 Julia rated it really liked it
This book is some sick shit. I took a break from "We Are Not Afraid" to finish this for Bar Book Club, reading the last pages before stepping out the door to see the new Batman movie. So basically the last few days of my life, I have been mired in a lot of dark, depressing, and "sick shit," at least in terms of reading and viewing material. To transition from a book about the lynching of Civil Rights workers to a bloody, murderful saga of child abuse, outsiderness, and general psychosis - tis no ...more
Aug 25, 2007 Lucía rated it liked it
A relentlessly violent, hippie-era Matilda, where the drugged-out teenage narrator has a knife instead of telekinesis, and the sole sympathetic adult character can't rescue her from the cruelty of the adult world. Also, it's a road story. And really funny. And sad and scary.
Nov 03, 2010 christa rated it really liked it
Words and phrases from my friend Jodi's review of the novel Cruddy by Lynda Barry that made it absolutely mandatory that I read it stat:

"... bodies left in their wake."
"Not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach."
And the ultimate deal sealer:
"There were paragraphs I had to skip over because the descriptions of slaughter and dead bodies were too graphic for me. In fact, my stomach jumps a little and I shiver just thinking about them. Blech."

"Sold!" I wrote in the
Jenny Donahue
Jul 21, 2011 Jenny Donahue rated it it was amazing
First off, Lynda Barry is fucking awesome. Watch her speak on youtube. Why is that the people who create the most disturbing shit are the people who seem the most optimistic, happy, and stable? They are onto something.

My art school grad student teacher had us reading quite a few graphic novels with intense material. I judged Cruddy by the cover. I expected it to be bland and depressing like the girl.. thing.. person on the cover. Depressing, it was. But somehow Barry managed to make depressing
Nathanael Hall
Feb 11, 2012 Nathanael Hall rated it it was amazing
Originally released in 1999 and, judging solely from the voluminous amount of new reviews it still inspires on this site, still as important now as it was then. It's the kind of book that makes you want to try writing a screenplay. The kind of book you can't imagine how to actually go about recommending it to your girlfriend. The kind of book that gives you an idea about how to make a better ending for your novel.

I am so passionate about this book that I've created an unofficial soundtrack for
Jason Estrin
Jun 26, 2012 Jason Estrin rated it it was amazing
This is the very first case of 'don't judge a book by its cover' that I have been affiliated with. A roommate had a dogeared and water damaged copy laying on a stack of magazines and every time I passed it I added another layer of resentment for the book. My right hand, of its own accord, grabbed it off the magazine stack as I walked outside for a smoke. First sentences are said to sell or destroy a book. I will type Lynda Barry's sentence so you too can move beyond the cover and get hooked like ...more
Anna Springer
Nov 11, 2011 Anna Springer rated it it was amazing
Try this one back to back with Crime & Punishment. I think it's one of the smartest novels written. If you've spent life around a bunch of violence, deception, depression, and perverse pleasures that come in-between heartbreaking let-downs, you'll like it. Otherwise you'll think it's "over the top" or "depressing". Which means you're lucky, in some ways, and unlucky in others, but your therapy bills might be lower than those of us who think this is the Great American Novel.
May 03, 2014 Twodogs333 rated it did not like it
Wow! This book was such a waste of my time. It was like listening to a severely drunk/ drugged up person spewing their BS story of their life gone awry. I read it to the end, but I wish I could have my time back!
Jun 03, 2013 Shannon rated it really liked it
There is nothing I can write that hasn't already been written (and much better than I could) by others. Except, I don't think it's proven that Roberta actually commits suicide; all we know is that she doesn't come home. Given her earlier battle to stay alive, (why commit suicide now?), just as likely she was talked out of it by her one-browed friend, who she has to rely on to help her do herself in, if that really is her outcome. Lynda Barry is one of my favorite comics writers, because she has ...more
Apr 19, 2009 Korynn rated it did not like it
Shelves: contemporarylit
A book that made me feel physically ill. Every description of every person, place or thing in this book is purposefully described in the most repulsive and disgusting manner. The narrative is terribly worrisome. We have a teen, Roberta who desires to escape, whether by death or drugs, as she lives in an abusive household in a highly unappealing town. No one is described in a manner that makes them appealing or trustworthy. If this book was purposefully written to be an antithesis of all the teen ...more
Nov 17, 2015 Mike rated it really liked it
Shit and goddamn. Reading Cruddy is like finding a bloody finger in your sandwich but you keep eating it anyway.

The grotesque imagery of this story has a visual clarity on par with any horror film, and even more frightening since Lynda Barry coaxes your mind to show you the horrors. I've read some disgusting things and this is pretty disgusting. While I think this stands out from Barry's contemporary work, many of her comics have a darkness to them that is pushed to the forefront in Cruddy. At t
May 02, 2015 Mary added it
I don't know that I'm in a position to rate this book or have an opinion about it. I "finished" it by skimming the last hundred pages in a wild fury. I couldn't take it. My poor soul was too weak and the language and events began to blur together into a blood- and drug-fueled haze.

I don't know if this book is poorly written or well written. I don't know what it is or what it's doing. But I guess I can confirm that is violent and disturbing, and at times touching. Until it's completely 100% distu
Dec 20, 2014 Mary rated it liked it
You have to love Roberta! She is a survivor and a wonderful narrator. It is sad that some children really have shitty parents like Roberta. Her non-caring self-centered mother makes me sick. Her father with his skewed selfish view of the world makes me sicker!

What makes Cruddy such a good read is Roberta's voice. Her need for love and acceptance just like all teenagers is overwhelming but her circumstances are so much worse than most kids.

The ending does not really fit for me. Without giving aw
Jul 13, 2014 Megan rated it it was amazing
wish i had read this when i was preteen! blows judy blume out of the water.

notes upon rereading July 2014: loved this even more the second time around. am disgusted/impressed by the level of cruddiness in this book: every page delivers some description of decay, rot, corrosion, violence, crud. it is a vivacious narrative too, warm and bright and very very funny. a wild, devastating book with much heart. masterpiece of coming-of-age literature.
Andrea Mullarkey
Jul 09, 2015 Andrea Mullarkey rated it really liked it
Dark. Bleak. Grim. Disturbing. Where is my thesaurus?!? It is hard to come up with adequate language to describe this book. Recommended to me by a colleague who is not a teen librarian as her favorite teen book I couldn't help but read this as a reflection on her teen years. And it makes me worry for her. Because this is some heavy stuff! And not heavy in a contemporary sci-fi/fantasy way, nor in an urban lit way. No, it is realistic fiction about a relentlessly dysfunctional family told in grue ...more
Ksenia Anske
Sep 28, 2015 Ksenia Anske rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Brilliant, moving, heartbreaking. It's like if you took Tarantino and screwed him through the eye sockets of a teenage girl and sprinkled it with acid and added a bunch of knives and a helluva good spicy writing and you've got this. How did I not know about Lynda Barry before, I have no idea, but I know now, and I'm a fan.
Dec 18, 2008 Chriso rated it it was amazing
Honestly, I can barely put into words how amazing this book is. I always adored Lynda Barry's work but this came out and it's like she destroyed and reinvented herself with every turn of the page. It's a truly amazing, chilling, dark, wonderful, upsetting book.
Nov 12, 2012 Corey rated it really liked it
I can't think of another novel like this. The voice is perfectly tuned and dazzling in places and the story is compelling, to say the least. It may be a small masterpiece but it was a little too dark for me. Call me sensitive. It's a wild ride down a black road.
Oct 28, 2007 Kevin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: all-time-faves
This might sound crazy but I think Cruddy ranks up there in the same class as the best of Cormac McCarthy and Larry Brown. JT Leroy fans will also find much to love in this dark and strange tale.
Sep 14, 2009 Leslie rated it it was amazing
The other day I heard an uptalking coed describe a community garden as “like, the most epic place I’ve ever seen.” I could easily describe the landscape of Cruddy on the same terms. It is epic. It would translate easily into a silver screen gem. It is apocalyptic and brutal.

The story shifts between two time periods: 1971 (our narrator is 16 years old) and 1966 (our narrator is 11). At eleven, Roberta is on the lam with her father—a murderer who self-identifies as “Navy” and “Slaughter House.” Bo
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Lynda Barry is an American cartoonist and author, perhaps best known for her weekly comic strip Ernie Pook's Comeek.
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“Dear Anyone Who Finds This, Do not blame the drugs.” 87 likes
“No matter what, expect the unexpected. And whenever possible BE the unexpected.” 79 likes
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