All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood – 5 Stars
I honestly had no idea how to rate this book. After sitting on it and thinking about it, I was surprisingly blown away by this story.
It was SO wildly inappropriate, extremely taboo, and just downright crazy.
I am going to say this; this book is going to piss a lot of people off. And I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who has issues with morally reprehensible themes. The things you will read in here will probably shock you. I myself kept going back and forth with being appalled and then defending what was happening. This book for sure will play with your emotions.
The story is told in multiple POVs but focuses mainly on two characters – Wavy and Kellen. Wavy is an interesting character. She comes from a deplorable and manic family. Her parents are meth-head criminals, and her mother’s erratic behavior has caused Wavy to be wary of everything around her. She doesn’t speak, doesn’t like to be touched, won’t eat in front of people, is petrified of germs, steals… I mean the list goes on and on. But even so, she is an intelligent girl whose innocent and young eyes have seen things a child should never see and have forced her to grow up way too fast.
Her father’s associate Kellen takes on the responsibility of taking care of Wavy when she is around 5 years old. Kellen is the true meaning of a person with a heart of gold. Wavy begins to trust Kellen and he becomes the only person she is comfortable around. Kellen’s love for Wavy starts as a love a person would have for a relative, but it eventually turns to ..more. Much more. I should mention Kellen is way older than Wavy. (I believe it’s mentioned when Wavy is 12 Kellen is 24.)
The story starts when Wavy is around the age of 5, and follows her life and the progression of her “relationship” with Kellen. As I said, there are some WILDLY inappropriate things that happen in this book that I am still not sure how I feel about. I can honestly say my jaw has never dropped so much while reading before. The author does a really amazing job at walking a fine line between despicable and beautiful. Like I said, I still don’t know how I feel about a lot of things that happened.
But I think what I appreciated SO MUCH is how the author tells the story in such an unapologetic yet non-manipulative way. It is what it is. What happened, happened. Wavy is Wavy and Kellen is Kellen. And their story is theirs. She allows you to feel whatever you may feel, whether its anger, sorrow, disgust, or happiness. And she allows the reader to draw their own conclusions by SHOWING us each of the painful, dark, and captivating layers of their story.
In the end, the title is so fitting. It was ugly and wonderful all at once. It was beautiful and unconventionally romantic. And though I wasn’t sure where it was going or how I would feel when I started it, the author’s talented writing sucked me in and I am SO glad I took a chance on this story. I have been saying lately how I want to read books that are “different.” Expand my horizons so to speak. Well this right here was it!
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is out August 9th: