Author: Bryn Greenwood
Published by: Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Date: August 9, 2016
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. Kellen may not be innocent, but he is the fixed point in Wavy and Donal's chaotic universe. Instead of playing it safe, Wavy has to learn to fight for Kellen, for her brother, and for herself.
Where do I even begin? I can easily see All the Ugly and Wonderful Things used in a literature class. It’s provocative, controversial and has the potential for a lot of discussion. People will love it or hate it.
Wavy is a fascinating character. Dysfunctional doesn’t even begin to describe her life. She is mature beyond her years due to the environment she grew up in, but the abuse she endured left her with some issues. This often leads people to underestimate her intelligence, but she is far from stupid.
The one safe and constant in Wavy’s life is Kellen. A child and a man, two lonely souls who find solace and understanding in one another. We watch their relationship develop over the years from innocent to much more. Is this a love story? Yes, but it’s complicated.
I don’t really want to get into specifics on how I feel or what I think, because it would end up being ten pages long. I will say, though, that I don’t condone what occurred, and definitely don’t find it romantic (I don’t think it’s meant to be). However, this is a wonderfully written book with extremely complex characters. It’s uncomfortable and disturbing at times, no doubt about it, but it’s also a story that evokes very strong emotions. That’s the great thing about it, whether it’s good or bad, you are definitely going to feel something.
With that being said, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things ultimately left me with a lot of mixed feelings, but I love that. I fully appreciate what the author did and know it will stick with me for a very long time.