This months book club book was ‘All the Ugly and Wonderful Things’ by Bryn Greenwood. Typically we pick three book options that we present to the group. Then we all agree on one book together. Well, this one was my sister’s pick but when we read the description we did not expect it to be the way it was. That’s not to say that it wasn’t a great boo. But boy were we in for a surprise as we started reading.
All of the descriptions that we read for this book were along the same lines of “a beautiful and provocative love story between two unlikely people.” Well that sounds sweet doesn’t it? Not so fast. Wavonna (Wavy) is an eight year old girl being “raised” by a mentally unstable drug addict Mother, Val, and a meth making Father, Liam. Because of this, she herself has her own issues while trying to raise her younger brother Donal. She is incredibly smart but she won’t eat in front of other people and she hardly utters a few words. One night while she’s star-gazing in solitude she is the cause and witness to a motorcycle accident by Kellen.
Kellen at this time is 20 years old and also happens to be one of Liam’s drug friends. When he first wrecks his motorcycle the way he describes Wavy is beautiful and captivating. This is an odd way to describe an eight year old child. This is the start of their unusual “friendship.” Kellen ultimately takes her under his wing where he makes sure she goes to school, tries to get her to eat, and treats her like a daughter or little sister. However, things progress from this to a point where it could make you feel quite uncomfortable. On the other hand, you can’t help but still root for their relationship.
As Wavy grows into a teenager we see them start to really fall in love. That’s when things turn physical and cringey. Wavy’s Aunt Brenda has been in and out Wavy’s life since she was a child. So when she learns that Wavy is involved with an older man, she doesn’t realize how serious it is. That is until she see’s Kellen for herself. This big “beastly” man with a child just doesn’t make sense to her as it probably wouldn’t for most.
When Wavy is thirteen, a whirlwind of events happen that turn her world upside down. She is caught having sex with Kellen, her family is ripped apart, and her Aunt Brenda steps in accusing Kellen of rape. Her Aunt means well and on the outside looking in, we would probably all see it the same way. But to Wavy and Kellen, their love is pure. Again, you can’t help but hope this damaged man and affection seeking girl will get to be together.
You’ll have to read the book to find out if they end up together and really take a dive into the series of events that lead them to where they end. My one critique is that I feel like the end was a bit rushed. The detail and character development throughout the story is done so well that towards the end, it feels like everything is happening so fast. It was as if Greenwood wanted to finish the story and be done. But I feel like there is so much more to tell leading up to it.
However, I still highly recommend ‘All the Ugly and Wonderful Things.’ It’s a beautifully told story and you won’t want to put this book down.