Review: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things


Review for “All the Ugly and Wonderful Things” by Bryn Greenwood (2016)

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I can’t get behind this book. Sorry.

It starts off somewhat promising: a young girl named Wavy and her little brother growing up in an abusive household with their shitty, meth-addicted parents who casually neglect them in search of their next fix. Wavy bounces between several family members and foster homes until she meets Kellen, a tattooed biker with a shady past who works in her father’s “business,” cooking and manufacturing methamphetamine. Kellen begins to look out and care for Wavy and her brother, and they eventually form a relationship.

This book spans about 15 years in Wavy’s life. There are a lot of different perspectives from those directly and indirectly involved with the main characters (teachers, relatives, etc) and a lot of variation between first and third person narratives–some I liked, others not so much. The writing was ok, but it lacked conciseness, making it feel it was way longer than its 353 pages. There was a quite a bit of drag in this novel for that reason, so I started skimming after the halfway point. Bleh.

Lemme also say this for those who don’t know: this is a love story. A love story that happens to take place between a little girl and, in this case, a grown man. They ‘fall in love’ when Wavy is about 8, and Kellen is in his 20’s. There are cringe-worthy sexual scenes that do take place when Wavy is a kid, and for that reason I should state that this is probably not a book for everyone. Ultimately, it’s not the book for me either. I won’t psychoanalyze the author’s reason for writing this, but I just felt the relationship dynamic was too weird for me to even begin to appreciate.

[Note: This book was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher as a free digital copy in exchange for an honest review.]