I think, if you are a book lover, you'd have had to have been living under a rock the last few months to have not heard talk of Brynn Greenwood's All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. It has been everywhere I look and I'll admit the buzz certainly caught my attention. When I heard words like 'controversial' whispered, I knew I needed to read this book.
This is the story of Wavy, an 8 year old girl who has been dealt a rough and difficult hand by fate. Her life changes the moment Kellen enters it and she in turn changes his. Over the course of 15 years we experience her curiosity, longing for family, pain, heartache, love and amazing ability to live despite the truly ugly and awful things the world can throw at a person. Through it all, she remarkably keeps a hold of her belief in the wonderful things that she can have and the special people that are hers to cherish, protect, cling to and love.
This book is an emotional read. It will tear your heart out at times - it certainly did mine. Interestingly, though, the author does not manipulate our emotions as we read. We are shown Wavy's life and we are taken along on her journey and are given the ability to feel how we will based on the story we see unfold. It is told through multiple points of view and with the amount of characters, it shouldn't work as well as it does. Somehow, the way it is told works perfectly and truly gives us a full picture of Wavy's life and the lives of those around her.
The controversy comes into play because of the love story that develops during this book between Wavy and Kellen. When they first meet he is an adult and she is 8. I know for some people, that fact right there will make them never pick this book up. It is important to note that nothing happens early on and he is very much a friend and protector to her (he is throughout the book though in the latter portion there is a role reversal of sorts). Feelings do begin developing though and despite the fact it may be 'wrong' given the age difference and the fact Wavy is not a legal adult, as you read, I think you will find that you can understand how both Wavy and Kellen find themselves in the position they do and trust me when I say it is heartbreaking. I cried many a chapter and I was rooting for them so hard!
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is not an easy book to read. It is an emotionally draining, at times uncomfortable story that wrecked me and then began to put me back together again. This is hands down one of the best books I have read this year and I cannot recommend it strongly enough.
Reviewed by Rosemary Feil
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.
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2bmoflN
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2blMHsk (Hardback edition - not available in ebook format on UK site at this time)