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Monday, February 27, 2017

My Thoughts: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

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.

This book, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. What can I say about this book? I hated it. I did not like it at all. I finished this one a few weeks ago and found that I to take some time just to get my thoughts in order. I remember reading the last page and my initial thoughts were why and what. Why did Bryn Greenwood chose to write this book? What was the point of this story?

The story begins when Wavy is young, living with her maternal aunt as her mother has been incarcerated for some reason or another. Early on in the story we know that Wavy is a guarded and distrustful child, who doesn't speak- not because she can't, because she chooses not to. As the story progressed, Wavy is returned to her mother and their dysfunctional existence on "the ranch". It is here the Wavy meets Kellen and their odd relationship begins.

When I first met Kellen and throughout most of the I really liked him and I felt bad for his situation. He was not the brightest crayon in the box, but he was kind and loving, and people took advantage of that. In the beginning all Kellen wanted to was to take care of Wavy, to give her a chance in this life she was put into. It was sweet. However as the story progressed and they both got older, I grew more and more uncomfortable with how things were evolving. Their relationship morphed into something different. This aspect of the story bothered me WAY more than I thought it would. Maybe this is an example of Greenwood's skill as a writer, but the way we as readers experienced the development of Wavy's feelings for Kellen and vice versa- guys, it was weird okay-  just weird. IT gave me the heebie jeebies.

The writing was phenomenal. I am certainly a fan of Greenwood's writing. She weaved a wicked story- and the angle she took in telling it was kind of incredible. She didn't normalize the situation, but she also didn't address things and make them seem like they were anything but normal. She was able to write the story and be very impartial to the events. Greenwood was able to do this by telling the story from various different perspectives. The story isn't just told with Wavy and Kellen's perspective, there are multiple voices who tell this tale. I am a big of this kind of story telling- I think it brings an extra dimension to the narrative.

For the most part, I liked Wavy, I loved her character growth, I thought she got the short end of the stick, family wise. No one wanted to take the time to get to know her, which is probably why she connected with Kellen the way she did. However, there were times, I found myself annoyed with her choices, and how she chose to view some things. Sometimes I found some of her choices didn't fit with the way it appeared her character was going. But overall, I liked her and I really wanted different things for her. Her mother and father were real pieces of work- that's all I'll say. Wavy wasn't without amazing supports though. She had a family that cared for her deeply, they just did not know how to interact with her.

The biggest issue I had with this book- as I mentioned earlier, was the point of the story. I get controversial themes- those don't scare me, but they need to have a point. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things didn't feel like it had a point. Was it just being controversial to be controversial. Greenwood has said this is semi autobiographical to a relationship she had at 13 with a much older man, which meant more to her then, than some of the adult relationships she has had. So what? It's okay for an 11 year old and a 25 year old to have a romantic relationship? I can't reconcile her experience to the story she chose to write. It was a hugely inappropriate relationship on so many levels and it really made me feel yucky- I can't describe this any other way. I felt gross reading this book.

Overall, I did not like All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. Regardless of the flawless writing and amazing character development. The relationship was to much for me- and I just did not see the point of the story. I will perhaps read more of Greenwood, depending on what she produces. I am curious to hear the opinion of any others who have read this book- There are not a lot of negative reviews of this one on Goodreads (at least, none that have actually read the whole book- mostly those who DNF'd).  Or is this something you are curious now, and want to read, I'm curious, so share your thoughts. Share them with me.

~Happy Reading Everyone!


  1. Tell us how you really feel! haha jk. I can totally see why you disliked this book... I mean, I can't think of any reasonable person who wouldn't be totally creeped out by that. A controversial relationship in my mind is more like that book about the brother and sister falling in love (hopefully you know the one I'm talking about, that was released a few years back). This doesn't seem controversial to me. Just plain wrong.

    1. Was I to harsh? I hope not. Haha. Oh Forbidden- that book was intense and even though it was a bit graphic, it made sense to me. Not like this one- I still get man when I think about this book.


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