All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

all the ugly and wonderful things blue ribbon.pngfive stars

Publication Date: 08/09/16

Author: Bryn Greenwood

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        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.

Very rarely do novels leave me feeling like my worldview has completely shifted. However this book achieved what most novels only hope to do; it gave me insight into a situation which I have been fortunate enough never to experience, and completely changed both my opinions and outlook on life.

If I had been asked before I read this book whether I could have ever supported a non-platonic relationship between a fourteen year old girl and a man in his late twenties, and whether that relationship could ever be non-abusive I, like most others, probably would have said no. And yet.

In this novel, Wavy, the protagonist, has lived a life where she had to grow up quickly, and to make her own decisions. The only other person who ever looked out for her was Kellen, a man to whom Wavy gave  a purpose in life. Their relationship was wonderful,  deep, and amazing, and it left me conflicted and thinking about this book for days afterword. I was torn. Obviously the age of consent is put in place to stop abuse, and in 99.9 percent of all cases it is completely valid. But, should the law be one size fits all? How are those of us who have never experienced the life and hardships of the people coming down under the law supposed to judge them? The deep, well rounded characters, amazing writing, and perfect pace of this book sucked me in, and left me questioning my beliefs afterwards. It gave me insight into the life of a child from an abusive family and helped broaden my worldview. That is the mark of a successful novel. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to be left thinking for weeks, and who are okay with novels containing graphic content.


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