Oh friends have I got a book for you! This has been a book on my want to read list since last summer after my book buddy and dearest friend Sara read it and absolutely raved about it. I hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet and then I accidentally ordered it on Amazon (thanks 1-click shopping) so I finally got to read it. I could not put it down and I know if you’ve read it too you’ll know what I mean when I say this book completely captivated me.
Hardcover, 346 pages
Published August 9th 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books
ISBN 1250074134 (ISBN13: 9781250074133)
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As the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible “adult” around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father’s thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.
Click Here to buy All The Ugly And Wonderful Things
I feel like I need to start this review with a disclaimer because I’m going to very highly recommend this book but the subject matter will not be for everyone. I don’t really want to give anything in the plot away but I do think it’s important for people to know what they are getting with a book like this.
Bryn Greenwood’s “All The Ugly And Wonderful” things centers around the story of Wavy and Kellen and it is the most unconventional love story in that there is a significant age difference between Wavy and Kellen and they meet when Wavy is a little girl. Essentially it’s a love story between an adult man and a little girl but it’s not all what you’re thinking.
It starts off as Kellen becoming a kind of caretaker for Wavy who’s drug addict/dealing parents couldn’t ever be bothered to care for her. So as he takes care of her they develop a bond like no other.
The story takes place over about 15 years and we watch as Wavy grows up and learns how the world works without a whole lot of guidance. All you want as you’re reading the book is for someone to take care of Wavy and Kellen does that. He genuinely cares about her and wants to take care of her.
I found myself screaming “you can’t root for Kellen” and I honestly felt like I was having a bit of an existential crisis because I knew that it wasn’t normal. It was so beautifully told and in any other world (i.e. reality) I wouldn’t feel the same but in a novel could appreciate the story for what it was.
Greenwood’s novel is a captivating, beautifully told, love story that should never ever work but somehow it does. It was named Book of the Year by Book of the Month Club readers and I completely understand why now. It makes you uncomfortable, it makes you question things, and it just wrecks your emotions. It was genuinely ugly and wonderful and I don’t think there is really any other way to describe a novel like this.
It’s one that will stick with me for a long time to come and one that I’ll recommend to people time and time again. As disturbing as it is and as much as you think “ew, no I don’t want to read that” you’ll find that the writing and the story itself makes it all worth it. Although I completely understand those who feel like this isn’t a book for them.