Wednesday, August 24, 2016

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood Review

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 fa
ther'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. A powerful novel you won’t soon forget, Bryn Greenwood's All the Ugly and Wonderful Things challenges all we know and believe about love.
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"I was lying on tracks under a train I was in love with."

Readers are either going to hate this one or love it... 
For me, it was a book that instantly captured my attention and held me captive through the final page. I can't remember the last time I was so eager to indulge in words. There was something about the underlying taboo and the emotional turmoil on the surface that helped me look past the age difference and realize that Wavy was forced to grow up faster than normal and it wasn't because of Kellen. She was verbally abused by her mother, was forced to care for her little brother, and was in the company of drugs, sex, and alcohol. The only constant in her life was Kellen. He protected her, paid for her education, and in a some weird way.. was *the normal* part of her life. Their relationship started as guardian/child, but then as time progressed, so did the feelings and intimacy. It's not honorable to play off of a child's emotions and I want to think that Kellen tried his best to keep her at arms length. The problem was that Wavy felt alone and unwanted when Kellen pushed her away. Without him she had no one so he did what he did to keep her close. Yes, she was young and yes, it was very wrong... But in some twisted way, it was also very right. Wavy may have been young, but she was mature and knew what she wanted. Together they made their ugly lives into something wonderful.

It was a wild ride with danger and epic love. There were twists and turns and parts that I just couldn't believe. My heart ached and my gut wrenched. The words provoked so much emotion and for that I am thankful. I read to find the special reads of the world and this one was just that. It's in a league of it's own. Edgy and borderline just wrong. I found it to be flawlessly addictive and beautiful in the most awkward way, but I know not all readers will. If you are thinking about reading it I will leave you with this warning* Go into the book knowing that there are child/adult relations and if you can't stomach that then don't read it. Not all will appreciate the topic and graphic details, but I think with an open mind you can learn to be okay with it. 

"The letters seemed so wonderfully tragic to me. Each one a message he would never get. A note in a bottle, bobbing on the ocean. Lost" 

My only complaint would be the ending... I expected (or maybe just craved) a Romeo/Juliet kind of ending, but it never came. What did happen seemed a tad meh. The book builds up and feeds off intensity and emotion and near the end, I felt the writing completely switched tempo and voice. It lacked an emotional punch. I really would've loved to see a jaw dropping ending without a happily ever after. A tear-jerker ending would've left me reeling for sure. 

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