Review - All of the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood @bryngreenwood

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Date: August 9, 2016
Date Read: January 2, 2017
Source: Kindle Purchase

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 father'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. Kellen may not be innocent, but he is the fixed point in Wavy and Donal's chaotic universe. Instead of playing it safe, Wavy has to learn to fight for Kellen, for her brother, and for herself.
My Review

I am so disappointed!  I was so excited to read this book and I didn't love it nearly as much I thought I would.  I have seen so many rave reviews for this book and I just knew that I would absolutely love it too.  I actually pulled it out on New Year's Eve because this was the book that I wanted to start the new year reading because I was sure it would be a 5 star book.  There were some things that I did like about the book but it ended up being just an okay read for me.

This is a happy little inappropriate meth lab romance.  The meth lab isn't the controversial part of the story.  I said it is inappropriate because of the fact that the romance is between a child and an adult.  I knew that going in but I just couldn't get over this issue while I was reading.  This book made me uncomfortable as I am sure it made many other readers.  I just couldn't get past this issue.  This book made me sad more than anything.

I felt bad for Wavy.  The things that she must have went through before this book starts just breaks my heart.  She has so many issues at the beginning of the book and she will still be dealing with these issues for years to come.  She doesn't want to be touched, she doesn't talk, and she will not eat in front of anyone.  I really wish her grandmother would have been able to care for her for a longer time.

The people who should be taking care of Wavy simply don't do their jobs for the most part.  Her mother lays in bed most days and her father is off dealing with his drug business.  She takes care of her brother and herself.  When Kellen crashes his motorcycle in front of Wavy's house, an unlikely friendship is formed.  Kellen really did do a lot to take care of Wavy and her brother.  I liked him a lot of first but when it crossed the line into a romantic relationship it just didn't work for me.

I was really excited to read this book because I knew it was different.  I like different.  I am open to reading about things that are not the social norm.  I think my main hang up with this story is that Wavy was a child during most of it.  This was a book that I found rather easy to set aside.  Some sections seemed to hold my attention more than others but in the end it is a pretty forgettable story for me.

About the Author

Bryn Greenwood is a fourth-generation Kansan, and the daughter of a mostly reformed drug dealer. She earned an MA from Kansas State University and continues to work in academia as an administrator. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in The New York Times, Chiron Review, Kansas Quarterly, Karamu, and The Battered Suitcase. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter


  1. I haven’t read this book, but all the reviews I’ve seen have been overwhelmingly positive. It’s nice to see a review that points out some flaws.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. I need to read this. I need to know what it's the hoopla is about. I think I'm ready.

  3. Sorry this didn't work for you! I get that this will not be for everyone though. Great review!!

  4. It's definitely one of those polarizing books. It's definitely an uncomfortable subject.


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