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Reader reviews and comments on All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, plus links to write your own review.

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All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

A Novel

by Bryn Greenwood

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood X
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2016, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2017, 432 pages

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There are currently 34 reader reviews for All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
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Nocky

Eye opening novel
This coming of age novel has been really inspiring . It proves that no matter the circumstances, there's always a way to come out at the top . It's the total opposite of cliche, which was a huge relief and topics that are usually considered taboo aren't romanticized in any way. The reader gets to experience the reality of everyday life of many children growing up in similar circumstances. The story just goes to show that somewhere there will be someone looking out for you, even if it was not who you were expecting.
MTH

Real, disturbing, important
Tough subject and uncomfortable at times, but it is so well written with a fast moving plot. I’ll read it again. It was that good.
Debra LS

A Broken Family
I really liked this book. It was an engaging book about a family with addiction, mental illness and personal problems. The main character Wavy was a a true survivor of her family life.
Michelle

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
Alright, yes this was a tough read at times. Nothing about this book is black and white, there is just too much that matters and influence why things happen the way they do. I might have been on the fence about how I felt about this book if the author left the reader with questions as to what it was really about and left parts of the story to be filled based on a reader's interpretation. But she didn't... this story was about true love, no question. Sometimes love and life doesn't fall into a perfect little fairytale that can make everyone happy; they fall into something that is filled with such deep cracks to begin with the odds are great it won't survive. This is that story. This book pushed me out of my comfort zone, was very well written, and will stay with me for a long time ~
Power Reviewer
Rebecca

Couldn't Put It Down
I haven't stayed up late to finish a book in a long time, but that is exactly what I did for ALL THE UGLY AND WONDERFUL THINGS. I had to know what the outcome would be for this novel's young female protagonist in a book which tells a story with unique American characters, and some gritty, tense moments. The problematic, substance-abuse situations sounded real, and at the end of the book when I read some background on the author, I understood why this book was believable. This book is not a make believe world where everyone is wealthy and gorgeous; it is real, taking the reader down back roads that we all know exist. People with money might be able to pay for prescriptions for opiod drugs and have "acceptable" substance abuse problems that our society feels free to talk about and have television ads about, up to and including opiod-induced constipation with clean cut, hardworking citizens endorsing the drug remedies. This book is not that clean, suburban world. I know that some readers might be put off by some of the rough, intimate scenes and a few of the words used to describe it, but this book is realistic. Without the gritty aspect, it would be like reading a history book of Europe in WWII and having Hitler's regime described as "Since Hitler did not want to be friends with Jewish people, he asked them to move out of his country." I will not forget reading about the character named Waverly.
Power Reviewer
Cloggie Downunder

a brilliant debut
All The Ugly And Wonderful Things is the first novel by American author, Bryn Greenwood. Eight-year-old Wavonna Lee Quinn has seen more than her share of ugly things in her short life. Her father is a drug dealer with a meth lab just down the hill from the farmhouse where she lives with her mother. Valerie Quinn is drug-addled and self-absorbed, and Wavy spends her days trying to live something like a normal life while protecting her baby brother, Donal from Val’s psychotic fluctuations.

In her life there are few wonderful things; one of those is lying in the nearby meadow looking up at the stars and naming the constellations. Which is what Wavy is doing when Jesse Joe Kellen, a mechanic on an errand for her father, comes riding along on his 1956 Panhead. Seeing ths blond angel at the side of the road causes Kellen to skid, wreck the bike and injure himself in the process. Wavy overcomes her usual reserve to help him.

From this accidental meeting, an unlikely friendship develops between these two. With her family’s lifestyle, Wavy is exposed to violence, drugs and indiscriminate sex, so she has learned to keep a low profile, to eschew attachment to possessions, to trust no one. But Kellen, despite his appearance, despite his criminal history, despite his age (he’s thirteen years older than her), earns her trust. In fact, he’s the only person in her life who cares enough to see her nourished, schooled and protected from harm. But when Wavy reaches her teens, and the relationship changes tenor, it attracts unwelcome attention with tragic consequences.

Greenwood uses multiple narrators to present her story, and these give many points of view, but from Kellen and Wavy’s perspectives, the relationship can be seen as genuine and pure. Greenwood portrays her characters skilfully, and she conveys the sense of time and place and the prevalent social attitudes with consummate ease. Her descriptive prose is often exquisite. This is a tale that is likely to polarise readers, emotional and thought-provoking. A brilliant debut.
Carol N. (San Jose, CA)

Roller Coaster Ride
May I start my saying. . . this was one hard read! Bryn Greenwood's new book has a very controversial nature to its storyline. The subject matter, difficult to comprehend, but one that I understand does exist in this muddied world we live in. Written to disturb and challenge the reader, this novel forces one to look compassionately into the lives of each of its flawed, but memorable characters, Wavy, her little brother, Donal, and Kellen.

Greenwood uniquely uses multiple narrators to tell her story, some in the first person, others in the third person. That usually does not work for this reader, however, it is this writer's gift when it fits so well that the story flows and the reader doesn't really realize how the story is joined.

At eight years old, Wavy, the daughter of a meth dealer and a wacky drug addicted mother, is struggling to raise her little brother and be the "responsible" adult in his life. Then she meets Kellen, an ex-con motorcycle mechanic with a heart of gold, who tries to keep her safe and in school. And as the years pass, their unlikely relationship, surrounded by drug dealers, illicit sex and family turmoil, grows until another family member steps in to charge Kellen with statutory rape. The one constant, stable person in her life is taken and Wavy must decide to fight for herself, her family and her relationship.

This is both an intelligent and honestly written book, I will think about Wavy and her ugly but wonderful world long after having finished Greenwood's emotional roller coaster ride.
Ann B. (Kernville, CA)

The wonderful amid the ugly
The child of a meth dealer and a strung-out mother, Wavy is an ethereal creature. Parenting is completely absent, until it isn't; then it nurtures nothing but damage. The only tender, nurturing aspect of her gritty, gritty existence comes from Kellen, a tattoo-smattered gorilla of a biker dude who is 14 years Wavy's senior. He falls in love with her at first sight, and the older-than-her-years Wavy is smitten with Kellen as well. Despite the uncomfortably pedaphilic implications, their story works. Greenwood does a masterful job of creating sympathetic characters -- of showing us the wonderful amidst the ugly. I found myself asking, Am I rooting for the love story of a tattooed bruiser of a biker and the way underage child of a meth dealer? Yes. Yes, I am.

Beyond the Book:
  Age of Consent

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