All The Ugly And Wonderful Things
Thomas Dunne Books, 2016
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.
When I first requested this book in Netgalley, I wasn’t sure I’d made the right decision. Everyone was talking about it, as it was a controversial novel, but once I read what it really was about, I felt a bit uneasy. A love story between a girl and an older guy?
I started reading it a few days ago, ready to be disgusted or appalled. Instead, I quickly realized this was going to be one of my favorite reads of the year. A book I thought I wouldn’t like would become one of the best novels I’ve read in a long time. How cool is that? It was definitely outside my comfort zone, but I’m so glad I decided to read it!
The blurb is actually pretty accurate this time. Wavy is a young girl whose family hasn’t treated her right. Her mother is an addict and her father is a meth dealer, so you can imagine how difficult her life has been. Wavy almost never speaks and doesn’t eat in front of people, all because of her parents’ ongoing abuse. Her life suddenly changes when he meets Kellen, a twenty-something year old with whom she instantly shares a special connection. Kellen starts taking care of her and making sure she always has everything she needs. So how can Wavy not love him?
Their relationship was beautiful and touching and I never thought I’d root for them as much as I did. I don’t really like romance novels (when they only focus on that), but this was so much more: a coming of age tale, a tragic family story. Wavy was a true unforgettable character, even if she was difficult and hard to like at first.
I need to say it: even though they met when she is 8 years old, nothing “inappropriate” happens until she is thirteen. Which I know is still very young, but I expected this to be much more graphic than it actually was. Kellen was quite considerate and caring, willing to wait until she was old enough. He was a great guy, although he clearly made some mistakes.
I couldn’t read much every day because we were travelling and visiting cities, so I didn’t have the time. Still, I was amazed to discover that Wavy and Kellen (and little Donal) were in my thoughts of the time. I felt them near me and I couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen to them.
What I liked most was Bryn Greenwood’s flawless writing. She is a master at telling stories and she manages to make even the most trivial events worth reading. I loved how I was completely immersed in the book and felt like the pages flew. The novel captured all the details so you could feel you were living the story with the characters. The multiple POVs were original and awesome as well.
A truly wonderful (and definitely not ugly) novel for those who want to read something different and unique.
I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.