Published by St. Martin's Press on August 9th, 2016
Reading Challenges: Read New Authors
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.
❝The giant had stopped a train, calmed a wild beast, and didn’t even spill his beer.❞
All The Ugly and Wonderful Things is beautifully tragic, intensely emotional, and phenomenally written. Wavy’s story is gritty, it is raw and it is powerful.
Wavy needs someone to take care of her, someone to love her and when her grandma dies, there isn’t anyone else willing to take on the challenge.
Kellen cleaned her house, made sure she and her little brother, Donal had groceries, enrolled her in school, and bought clothes for her. He felt responsible for her.
But who felt responsible for Donal, besides Wavy? He is mad that Wavy speaks to Kellen and has nothing left to say to him, and he is a little jealous of the attention Kellen gives her.
❝I had to go on the bus, because nobody ever got up early enough to take me.❞
I am not sure what Kellen’s issues are, the book alludes to him being slow. And a few characters have their opinions about what’s wrong with him. Yet he is smart enough to be a businessman and have his own home. What he doesn’t have is someone who cares enough about him to take care of him.
❝She kept me tethered, not just to Powell, but to being alive. In the whole world, she was the only person who cared if I lived or died.❞
Wavy is so hungry for genuine love and affection, that when she gets even a little from Kellen, she latched onto him as if he was the king of the world. Willing to do anything for him, and willing to let him do anything for her, they shared a mutual affection for one another.
❝He smelled like love.❞
Even as a little girl, she was intuitive, always watching and learning from her surroundings and other people. This instinct helped her survive, it kept her alive! Her intelligence saw her through college and helped her face head-on the challenges she would encounter.
Were there parts in the book where I cringed? Yep.
Were there parts that made me emotional; angry and sad? You bet.
I cried and laughed a little too.
❝People said I was stupid, but at least I could follow some basic rules. Like don’t go on a drug buy in a car that may break down.❞
Some of the narrators felt that something wasn’t quite right with the relationship between Kellen and Wavy, or they feared she wasn’t being taken care of at home. Butch being the most insightful. But no one did anything to help. No one wanted to get involved. That is very much how it is today, 40 years later. We find more comfort in our complacency than we do in taking a stand for what is right.
I didn’t have any intentions on reading this book. NONE. I was afraid of the content. I had many friends who read and loved the book so when I discovered the author Bryn Greenwood was going to be having a discussion about this book with a signing to follow, I was excited. I wanted to hear more about the book everyone loved and hoped she would put me at ease enough to read it. (You can read about that night, here.) She did, and that was a feat! Because let’s be honest, reading about a child having a crush on an adult is cute and funny. But reading about an adult having a crush on a child is horrifying and vile. This book took me so far out of my comfort zone, I was in another stratosphere. But you know what? That’s okay. Because it made me think and feel!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Read New Authors