All the Ugly and Wonderful Things: A Novel

Bryn Greenwood
A beautiful and provocative love story between two unlikely people and the hard-won relationship that elevates them above the Midwestern meth lab backdrop of their lives.As the daughter of a drug dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. It's safer to keep her mouth shut and stay out of sight. Struggling to raise her little brother, Donal, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible adult around. Obsessed with the constellations, she finds peace in the starry night sky above the fields behind her house, until one night her star gazing causes an accident. After witnessing his motorcycle wreck, she forms an unusual friendship with one of her father's thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold.By the time Wavy is a teenager, her relationship with Kellen is the only tender thing in a brutal world of addicts and debauchery. When tragedy rips Wavy's family apart, a well-meaning aunt steps in, and what is beautiful to Wavy looks ugly under the scrutiny of the outside world. A powerful novel you won’t soon forget, Bryn Greenwood's All the Ugly and Wonderful Things challenges all we know and believe about love.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2019-02-06
This is one of those books you're either going to love or hate. I had some trouble deciding on a rating. The writing is good, I'd give it 4 stars. But the subject matter didn't appeal to me. I've read some awful books, books I'm not even sure I want anybody to know I read. But somehow this one rubbed me the wrong way. I don't find their love that believable. I couldn't get past the icky feeling. I didn't feel like this was some kind of epic romance. It made me feel uncomfortable. I'm a firm believer of not turning rape into romance. If I look at the facts, this is a romantic tale about statutory rape. There is a danger in writing stories like these.
I didn't feel like their romance was real. It felt like an adult who chased after a little girl for years until she was finally old enough (at 13 apparently) to have sexual encounters with. Keeping in mind that she was 8 when they met... I just can't let it go. It's icky. And it shouldn't be promoted as romantic.
Because of this I'm sticking with a 2 star rating.
Reviewed: 2018-08-28

This book has left me with a book hangover. About half way through this book I began to think of how it reminded me a bit of Gigi by Colette. A young girl finds a friend and protector in a man roughly 15 years her senior. The friendship blossoms into love. This book though takes place in Tulsa, Oklahoma and a ranch in possibly Oklahoma, but it could have been Kansas, Missouri or Arkansas. 

 

The relationship that develops between Wavy and Kellen is believable and I found myself rooting for them. This story falls more into the older tradition of established men meeting and falling for younger girls. Col. Brandon and Marianne for instance. 

 

It is a troubling relationship, and I have so many mixed feelings about the relationship between a 14 year old and a man in his late 20s. That's one of the reasons for this book hangover. I'm still trying to puzzle out this mixed bag of emotions. 

 

This will not be a book everyone will like, or will be able to read. Be warned that this is detailed story about abuse, physical, emotional and sexual. It brings up emotions that will knock you sideways.

Reviewed: 2018-04-18
After reading a review by a friend I was very intrigued to get my hands on this book. I didn't completely understand what I would get myself into when I started this book. I went in with a very open mind. I am a big fan of taboo reads and not many things really surprise or turn me off in books. This book definitely was taboo but on the other hand the characters in this book are not the characters you find in your every day novels. 

Wavy is a little girl with so much responsibility and has been hurt so many times in her life. My heart BROKE for her, there were a couple of scenes that had me crying because nobody really understood her. To people she is weird, antisocial and does things "normal" people wouldn't do. She was unique and so grown-up for her young age. She was fearless and strong, and I just couldn't wait to see who she would grow up to be. Her parents are no good drug dealers/users and don't pay her any mind. They have scarred her so badly with their horrible behavior and teachings. She only has her younger brother who she is very protective of. 

They are all alone until they meet Kellen who takes a role as their protector. Kellen has his own problems but I just loved how he took Wavy under his wings and helped her out so much. Their friendship was one of a kind and so heartbreakingly beautiful. This friendship turns into more. I had mixed feelings because of the age difference (especially because Wavy was underaged). There was definitely very inappropriate things happening but I think I could overlook them because Wavy wasn't your typical young girl. In her young life she had been through things others wouldn't go through in their lifetimes. There were a couple of times she came across as immature but other times so grown up.

I was blown away by this book. Wavy and Kellen were both two broken souls that healed each other. This book isn't for everyone because of the taboo elements. Be open minded if you do decide that you want to give this book a chance. I don't think I'll be able to forget this book easily, it has wormed its way into my heart. The characters are very dear to me! I love that there are multiple POVs and that they aren't very long. It really gave a great perspective of how the outside looked into Wavy and Kellen's life. How they were experiencing her "weird" behavior. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is one of my favorite reads this year and I can't wait to read more from this author. I am very impressed with her writing. She is definitely an author to look out for.
Reviewed: 2017-11-04

This is a hard one to review. Definitely a mind-bender. It's beautiful and well written, and also repulsive. A little girl in a horrible situation with meth head parents falls in love with one of their gang members, who has a heart of gold, but is also twice her age. Their relationship that develops is so lovely and sweet in some ways, but at the same time it seems disgusting to be rooting for such a Lolita couple. I finally decided I would admit that the book was excellently written, that it's a great book, but that I can't say that I like it. 

-Anne

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