5 stars · Age Gap · Angst Galore · Contemporary Romance · Forbidden Romance · Taboo

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things Book Cover All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
Bryn Greenwood
Contemporary Romance
August 9, 2016


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.

Val’s Review

4.5 Stars

“She is just as real as I am.”

^^^That was my favorite line and moment in a book that was filled with more than a few touching lines and moments.

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Before I say anything, let’s address the large-trunked mammal who hath set his fat ass in the middle of this ugly and wonderful room.

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Unless you live in a faraway goodreads cave (which I am totally not knocking, faraway caves are legit comfy hangouts) you have probably heard that the H/h in this book first…get involved…when they are 13 and 24/5, respectively.

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Now, this is a HUGE problem for some readers on a moral/comfort/ick-factor/whatever level and I totally respect that.

I don’t presume to change people’s minds and I’m not here to try.

We all believe, prefer and/or are comfortable/uncomfortable with different things.

And I’m down with that.

Some people can read about animals being slaughtered and I can’t even read about one being left in a hot car for five minutes.

Others can’t stand violence of any kind and I can read about torture and disembowelment and not even pause in my quest to get to the bottom of the Skinny Pop bag.

PO-TA-TO…PO-TAH-TO

This coming babble is merely MY way of scrambling explaining how I was okay with this age difference.

And how that makes me NOT a supporter of pedophilia.

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PEDOPHILIA

Let’s talk about it, shall we?

Per definition:

“Pedophilia or paedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children.”

In my line of work, I have actually MET convicted pedophiles. (Don’t ask, I won’t get into it.) But let’s just say this… Kellen ISN’T one.

As it states above, pedophiles experience a PRIMARY sexual attraction to PREPUBESCENT children. They are NOT interested in adults sexually, usually only children – thus the “primary” in that definition. They could “love” a child in their minds, but once that child ages out of whatever their “preferred range” is, that “love” is no longer.

Now, I’m not saying I would love having a 25 year-old man dating my fictional-hell-hath-truly-frozen-over-13-year old daughter.

I’m simply saying that Kellen was NOT a fucking sex predator and Wavy his unassuming fairy-child prey.

He loved WAVY. Regardless of her age.

Their “situation” was a unique one; thus what made it interesting.

To me at least, for what that’s worth.

So, if you are on the fence with this one as a result of the age thing – Again, I’m not trying to change the minds of those firmly on one side or the other. This is intended for those in the middle who are unsure if it might bother them or not – To those people I would say to maybe give this one a shot.

After it goes on sale.

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Because $12.99, homies.

But back to the book.

I thought Wavy was a really interesting character. She was quirky and different.

And she was quirky and different without being Manic Pixie Dream Girl different – which I LOVED.

GOD, I am sick of that trope.

Anycliche, back to Wavy.

I thought she was a really original character who lived a very original story.

And, even though she had a really shiteous childhood, I appreciated that – while still difficult and believably tragic – Greenwood didn’t make it SO over the top tragic that it made me roll my eyes.

Seriously, that seems to be all the craze these days. Authors seem to think that saddling their characters with all of these heinously tragedy-filled pasts acts as automatic characterization.

But honestly?

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All that does is make me roll my eyes and shake my head.

Another thing I really liked about this story was the layout.

Every chapter it jumped around to a different narrator and POV. Now, normally this would drive me batshit, but the way Greenwood did it here just really worked for me.

I thought this format served to give us even more insight into the story and the characters. In some ways, it reminded me a little bit of Nine Minutes in that I felt like Morgan Freeman was reading it to me.

In my living room.
Sitting on my couch.
Against the soundtrack of my dog slurping on her ass right next to my face.

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#Yummy

I also really liked the story as a whole and the way that parallels were drawn between Wavy’s blatantly abusive mother telling her she was “dirty” and Renee (who to me represented the “norm”) being surreptitiously abused in a similar – and yet more socially acceptable manner – by being practically force-fed copious food and then being backhandedly asked seconds later how her diet was going.

Two completely different backgrounds and methods…and yet, kind of abusive all the same, no?

So, well done, Ms. Greenwood, authoring like this is truly refreshing.

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Now in the same breath that I sound halfway cerebral and semi-fancy…

…Here comes Shallow Val.

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Now, I realize that what I am about to say makes me sound heinous and awful. And I am aware of this.

I’m awful.

There, I said it for you, so feel free to skip the snark in the comments.

Or go ahead, I need some amusement.

But anyshallowend, as I was saying.

Kellen kept being described as ugly, sweaty, smelly, fat, greasy, I could go on…

Or I could just leave this quote here:

“I had nothing on my body like the warm damp crease between his tits and belly. Nothing like the muscles that bulged in his arms when he used the pulley in the shop ceiling to hoist engines out of cars.”

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I’m sorry….but…

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Yes, yes, I know what you are thinking.

“But it’s real.”

“It’s authentic

It’s MAN TITS.

Now I may be shallow, but I’m not ridiculous. *snort* This didn’t factor into my rating or overall love of the book. But – for full transparency – I must say that comments such as these DID pull me out of a few otherwise poignant moments.

I really enjoyed this story. And while I wouldn’t say it is my “top all time read of the year” *dodges projectile objects* it was definitely up there in books I will remember and authors I will keep on my radar.

And, who knows, I might end up loving it even more later upon further reflection or another re-read.

Until then, I imagine Wavy standing in an open field, the breeze blowing through her hair, saying:

 

“I could have told him there was no sense in rushing toward being dead. It would find you soon enough, and before it did there were pleasures to make your heart hurt less. If I lay very still in bed at night, I remembered how Grandma’s house smelled. The taste of mint ice cream on Kellen’s tongue. Donal jumping on the bed to wake me up….”

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“…I’m real. I’m as real as you are…”

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Okay, this thing is ALL over my feed. I usually ignore buzz books that I had no independent interest in, but this one has me intrigued now…

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