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All the Ugly and Wonderful Things: A Novel…

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things: A Novel (edition 2016)

by Bryn Greenwood (Author)

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2273051,069 (4.2)2
Title:All the Ugly and Wonderful Things: A Novel
Authors:Bryn Greenwood (Author)
Info:Thomas Dunne Books (2016), 353 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites, Read, Read in 2016, Best of 2016, Fiction, NetGalley

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All the Ugly and Wonderful Things: A Novel by Bryn Greenwood



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What a riveting book. I read a few reviews after I finished it, and the people who didn't like it stated reasons of morality. However, reality for some people isn't everyone's reality and there are children and adults living with an alternative reality to what many of us know. This book is about those people. Wavy and her little brother live with drug-addicted parents. The mother's sister lives in another town and is straightlaced, so there isn't much relationship between the two sisters. No one really cares about the kids and the mother has instilled in them fear of germs and other things from a very young age that made them different, fearing things most kids don't, but they had plenty to fear. No one really cared for them, but they clung to each other, and when a big gentle man who works nearby and knows the father shows up and begins showing affection and caring to the kids, they learn they can trust him. He makes sure they have groceries and go to school, and more. He's the only real caretaker they have.

The story takes place in the midwest in a rural, poor community. The details in the book are exquisite. For those who object, the f word is used liberally but that's the nature of the people in the story. Wavy learns to love the stars, constellations. She knows the names and configurations. She's an intelligent child but doesn't talk unless she wants to or must. Because of her mother's warnings, she won't eat in front of others. No one accepts her and her brother as who they are except the big man, Kellen, who cares for them.

Kellen is Native American and had a rough upbringing too, so he understands. He's a whiz with fixing anything with a engine or mechanical, what he does for a living. He rides a vintage motorcycle that is his pride and joy. Wavy is 8 when he meets the kids, and Kellen loves her. Wavy mistakes his love for something different and wants to marry Kellen one day. Kellen is also lonely, though he has lady friends now and then. The story is told from the viewpoint of several characters in the book. The writing is perfect. This was a hard book to put down and the story will stay with the reader. ( )
  Rascalstar | May 2, 2017 |
This is a book written by a woman who grew up in Kansas, the daughter of a “very successful” meth dealer who had his own private plane. At the age of 13, she fell in love with a much older man. This novel was not meant to be autobiographical, but it definitely draws upon a known past.

This novel has stirred much controversy about the nature of the relationship that develops between the two main characters in this novel. I admit that as their relationship started to change, I cringed at the idea of a romantic relationship between Kellen and Wavy, but I grew to love them together. The book brings up so many questions about the nature of romantic relationships. Is it better to first experience romance with someone you love and trust or as a fling at a party, like Rene and Amy? Is engaging in a romantic relationship with a much older man who has been acting as your care-giver breaking boundaries of trust? Is it morally reprehensible? Was Aunt Brenda’s extreme reaction to the relationship between Wavy and Kellen due more to her guilt at not being there or true repulsion at the idea of this inappropriate relationship?

I loved Wavy in this novel. I felt she was an angel, a beautiful, bright and intelligent child, trapped in an ugly situation. Her father is a meth dealer, with multiple girlfriends, not even living at home with her mother. Her mother has extreme OCD and paranoia which she self medicates with substance abuse. Wavy is left to her own devices, neglected, ignored, physically injured at times, witnessing the debauchery and reckless behavior of the adults around her. She appears feral in part due to her neglect and in part due to her mother’s extreme reactions and instructions to her daughter. Wavy will not speak to people and she will not eat in front of people. This scares most people around her. The teachers feel she is a lost cause. When her parents are in jail, her Aunt Brenda becomes so frustrated by Wavy that she is made to leave. Only certain special people are able to connect and get through to Wavy. These include Amy, Donal, her grandmother and Kellen.

I felt so much truth, humanity and love expressed through this book. I loved that this book made me rethink some hard and fast rules that I have for behavior. I think looking at everything as being black and white is dangerous. There are always shades of grey. Wavy and Kellen proved this. This would make an excellent book club book. There is so much to discuss and from reading other reviews, there are people with polar opposite feelings about this book!

For discussion questions, please see: http://www.book-chatter.com/?p=1181 ( )
  marieatbookchatter | Apr 6, 2017 |
Difficult subject matter Kellen and Wavy ( )
  Robbie1943 | Apr 2, 2017 |
A beautiful and thoughtful love story between two very unlikely characters and the unusual connection to each other that elevates them above the midwestern met lab life. ( )
  creighley | Mar 1, 2017 |
Lolita meets The Glass Castle meets Winter's Bone. I devoured this book! Yes the subject matter was difficult, but I have read things much more horrific. I loved Kellen and Wavy's relationship. Honestly I felt as if she was more of an adult at eight than most adults graduating college. And Kellen seemed more of a child emotionally than many kids I know today. It seemed to me the "adults" in the story caused more trouble and did more harm than anything Kellen and Wavy did. In a world where girls are sold and/or married off as young as six, was this really that bad? Again it goes to prove, the life we live in the gray is the real world...the world of black and white just ends up harming the ones who have already been harmed the most. ( )
  annabw | Feb 21, 2017 |
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