Very few books that I have read in my life really stick with me. There are some I remember and others that are a distant memory. Those that I can’t get through are promptly forgotten and some are abandoned. Then there are those that are a shining memory, ones I cannot get out of my head, the ones that I think about and remember how much they broke me, gutted me. One of those books is Lullabies For Little Criminals. After reading that book I thought to myself there’s no way another book could ever come close to this. Friends, welcome to All The Ugly & Wonderful Things. This book has surpassed my love for Lullabies for Little Criminals, just a tad, and has landed itself 5 stars and a spot on my favourites shelf. As I write this I am still shaky (since I literally just put the book down and ran to write this review) and so in love with Bryn Greenwood’s writing. A warning, this book is controversial and the topics are heavy, it is not for the faint of heart nor the squeamish, take a peek at the synopsis below.
A beautiful and provocative love story between two unlikely people and the hard-won relationship that elevates them above the Midwestern meth lab backdrop of their lives. 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 stargazing 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.
My initial thought when I read about this book on the day of its release was “will I be able to get through this book?” I wasn’t sure I would like it and I knew it would need to be written very well for me to devote myself to it. After a few friends posted their reviews, one being Jen from BluestockingBookshelf, I knew I had to pick it up. I devoured this in 2 days. It was like being sucked into a funnel of beauty found in the most uncommon places.
The characters were so raw and full of emotions. I fell in love with all of them. Bryn I don’t know how you did it, but you managed to make me feel differently for each character! I wanted to give each of them a giant hug (even broken Val). I also loved how when it came down to it age had no reason to exist in the relationship. I have no idea how you did it but you did it, you tore my heart out and stitched it back together. I have never before read a book where I felt every emotion possible.
I loved this book so much. I hope that I can recommend this to people but part of me is scared to do so because it’s such a complicated book that I’m terrified someone will view it incorrectly. I see how some people might be horrified or be uncomfortable but to me it was beautiful even when uncomfortable. Some books are told to us while others are shown to us. That is exactly how I feel about All The Ugly & Wonderful Things, I was unexpectedly touched by it. I would also like to mention that the title of this book is so perfect for the story, nailed it!
If you’ve read All The Ugly & Wonderful Things please join in on a discussion on November 29 at 8:30pm EST on Facebook with the lovely Alex from Novel Editions and Bryn Greenwood herself. I’m really excited to join in! Request to join in here and let Alex know I recommended it to you!
Rating – 5 stars
Page count – 353 pages
Favourite quote – “All the ugly and wonderful things people had done in the last two thousand years.”