Title: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
Author: Bryn Greenwood
Published: August 9 2016
Length: 352 pages
Source: Received for review from Netgalley
I’ve had the review for this book handwritten for about 3 weeks, I just didn’t get around to typing it up! For me to read a coming of age story it needs to have an intriguing synopsis, so here it is: (taken from Goodreads)
‘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.’
This is a fairly controversial book, with the main relationship being between a grown ass man and a minor. But I finally figured out why it made me as a reader so uncomfortable. Usually when we are presented with these kind of relationships, they are portrayed in a revolting/creepy way, which tends to be our response to it anyway. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things didn’t do that, it showed us a relationship where this child, who grows up in an environment where both her parents are meth addicts, has an escape. Someone who actually cares for her, enrolls her for school when neither of her parents bothered to. Protects her, feeds her and basically plays the role of the parent. So it presents the relationship in a way that confuses us, in a weird way you kind of understand the relationship, and sometimes even root for it. If you’re reading this and you haven’t read the book, you’re probably thinking WHAT THE HELL.Just read it.
World Building: I LOVE multiple perspective books anyway, but it was so essential to this book, it added another dimension to the story. SO many things happen, and as a reader you just want to know what a particular character makes of a situation. I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed reading this book as much as i did if it wasn’t for this aspect.
Characters: The perspective of Wavy felt so real, raw and genuine. Kids usually have this unfiltered view of the world, they see everything as it is, they don’t search for deeper meanings. The author really managed to enable the reader to connect with this little girl who, to say the least, is living an insanely difficult childhood. A lot of times you come across characters, usually on TV, or sometimes people you see in the real world. You see the way they live, their little habits and you sometimes wonder what goes on in their mind, the perspective was so satisfying because it provided me as a reader, with that insight. The development of our main character was realistic, as Wavy grew up she didn’t blossom into this young woman who has magically overcome her past and left all the habits behind. You see wavy as she progresses into college carrying along with her the baggage of her childhood, the responsibilities and burdens she’d been dumped with when she was just a child actually having an impact on her later on. Having said that, it is a coming of age story so she does try to move on with her life, studying a subject that she’d been interested in from a young age (astronomy). But nevertheless it still felt like a tangible progression, an individual trying to get on with her life! I’m trying so hard not to spoil anything…
If you don’t usually read coming of age stories I definitely recommend you pick this up. If you like to be challenged by a book I also HIGHLY recommend this. It has that addictive factor, you become so familiar with the characters and the environment you wish there was more!