Title: All The Ugly and Wonderful Things
Author: Bryn Greenwood
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 346 Pages
Published August 2016
Summary: 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.
I received a finished copy of this book from St. Martin's Press way back in July to read and review, and I've been a bit held up getting adjusted to college, but I've been getting through it bit by bit. Now that the semester is coming to an end and classes are winding down, I had the opportunity to sit down and finish this book, and I'm very glad that I did.
This book tells the story of Wavy, a young girl who has a pretty hard life. Her mother is pretty absent, her father is a meth dealer, and nobody really takes care of her or her younger brother. It's only when Kellen, an employee of her father's, wrecks his bike and stumbles upon Wavy that someone finally cares about her. He feeds her, takes her to school, pays for her tuition, and does all he can to keep her thriving.
And eventually, they fall in love. Which would be sweet and all, if Kellen wasn't in his twenties before Wavy was even fourteen. Nevertheless, the love between the two of them was sweet, and throughout the book you could tell how much he loved Wavy, even if he sometimes made some stupid decisions.
So, this book basically follows Wavy throughout her life, from childhood to adulthood, as she grows up in an extremely broken household. She's feared by pretty much everyone she knows for being a "weird girl" -- one that is very tiny, barely speaks, and never eats in front of people. She has some quirks and insecurities and such, things that most people don't understand, but Kellen always seems to get her. He takes care of her and loves her, even when people don't approve and her life is going downhill.\
There are a lot of hard things that go on in Wavy's life, also. It's hard enough being ignored by your parents -- but some of the things she's had to witness were just awful -- people doing drugs and people performing sexual acts on her own father, just to name a few. Before she was even thirteen, Wavy had experienced plenty of things that most college freshman haven't seen yet, or ever plan to see in their lifetime.
Wavy leads a very twisted life, and your heart can't help but ache for the poor girl. But I enjoyed seeing her bravery and her ability to keep a level head throughout all of the things that happened to her, especially with Kellen by her side, loving her and taking care of her.
All in all, I really enjoyed All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. It was a very interesting read, definitely not something I've read before. At times, things got really intense and graphic, so I wouldn't recommend this book for younger readers. Other than that, I really enjoyed Wavy and Kellen's love story. It was something sweet and adorable, something that wasn't common, and something I was rooting for the whole way.
If you're looking for a different kind of romance story, something that isn't all fluff and rainbows, I definitely recommend giving this one a try. You won't regret it!
I'd also like to thank St. Martin's for sending me this book a few months back -- I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did, and I'm now so glad that I had a chance to read it! I'd definitely be opened to reading more work from Bryn Greenwood in the future.