Monday, September 23, 2019

All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

All The Ugly And Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
Published August 2016 by St. Martin's Publishing Group
Source: my ebook copy checked out from my local library

Publisher’s Summary:
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.

My Thoughts:
In 2016, when this book was published, it was the Book of the Month Club’s Book of the Year. It was Goodreads runner up as Best Fiction of 2016. Library Journal says this book is so “dangerous that it should come with a warning label.” Kelly Jensen, of Book Riot, says it is “gritty and dark and tough and uncomfortable.” One Goodreads reviewer said that when she came to the end of this book, she was “completely unsure exactly what I did feel about it..” My thoughts exactly. Then she added, “but one thing is certain: I felt.” Which was also true for me.

Here’s the thing: there are a lot of ugly things in Wavy Quinn’s life. But the very thing that will make readers most uncomfortable, the very thing that should be the ugliest thing in a book, the very thing that almost made me have to set the book aside for a while? For Wavy, that’s the most wonderful thing in her life.

From the very beginning of the book, we desperately want Wavy to have something wonderful. Her mother is a drug addict so deep into her addiction and depression that she can rarely pull herself out of bed. Her father is an even worse parent. Enter Kellen, a giant of a man raised in an equally damaged home with a history of violence. But tiny Wavy sees another side of Kellen. With Wavy, Kellen is gentle and caring. She teaches him about the stars and makes him want to be better. I felt happy that they had found each other and created their own family. And no matter what happened in the book, I never stopped wanting both of them to find happiness.

Provocative? Yes. But also marvelously told, filled with interesting, well-written characters and vivid descriptions. Greenwood moves the story along quickly, using multiple narrators but I never lost track of where I was in time and Greenwood never lost focus. This book challenges readers to check their judgment at the door, which is never easy. So, yes, this book made me squirm a little; but, in the end, it was a beautifully told story about people I won’t soon forget.

1 comment:

  1. I adored this book even though it was so uncomfortable to read at times. This author has a new book just out (title escapes me) I'm waiting for my turn at the library.