Review: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by: 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.

Wow!  This book left me speechless.  I decided to read it based on all of the great reviews it’s received.  I knew going into it that the story was a little disturbing.  It is, don’t get me wrong, but the way Bryn Greenwood makes you love and care for Wavy and Kellen, it almost makes the subject matter acceptable.

The story is told from several different perspectives, which I liked.  It added to the depth of the characters and allowed the story to be told from different angles.  We are introduced to Wavy from the very beginning, and instantly learn about her troubled, if not disturbing, childhood.  I was immediately intrigued by this little girl, and wondered how someone so young could be strong.  She let’s her guard down with the one person she could trust and truly love, as taboo as it may be.  However, he also grows to love and trust her…unlike anyone he has ever done so before.

My emotions ran deep when I was reading this book.  I found myself laughing and even crying.  I got so angry at one point I yelled out ‘no!’, only to be jerked back into reality.  The rawness and brutal honesty in the writing is what truly makes it a great read.  When I finished, it took me a day to process what I had just read, as I could not stop thinking about it.  It is one of those books that stay with you, for a long time afterwards.

While the subject matter may not be for everyone, if you approach the story with an open mind and take it for what it is, a girl overcoming great obstacles and finally learning to love, I think you will enjoy the book as much as I did.


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