TITLE: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
AUTHOR: Bryn Greenwood
ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY: When Wavy and Kellen meet, they have an unforgettable connection that will change their lives forever. (That was not a hyperbole)
GENRE: Fiction | Coming of Age | Romance | Adult
WARNING: There is child abuse and controversial subject matter.
This is one book I urge you go in blind and go in with an open mind. For those that need more encouragement to read this book, keep reading.
I asked for this book as a birthday present and my family didn’t disappoint me. The day following my birthday I started reading it and finished it in two days. It’s the first book in a while that I kept bringing it out to sneak in a couple of pages. The story is very tough to read but the writing is so beautiful and breathtaking, making it so easy to read. I admit, this is one of those books I wanted for the pretty cover and title, but boy did get a lot more than I bargained for.
I have so much to say about this novel and yet, I can’t say much because I don’t want to spoil anything, not even the crux of the story…
Okay, I’m going to say it. The story revolves around the romance between Wavy, a minor, and Kellen, a much older man. I did not know this when I first started reading the book, and I did feel uncomfortable when I realized it at first. However, I felt uncomfortable because of their age difference not because of their relationship. I should feel opposed to it, but I wasn’t, not completely, and that’s the weird part.
Their relationship despite the 13 age difference never felt disgusting or wrong. Kellen never felt like a predator, Wavy never felt like his victim. Greenwood did such a great job of portraying a healthy relationship despite how bad their lives are. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why their relationship does work. Their lives outside of the relationship are full of hardships, family problems, and full of verbal and physical abuse. There’s so much wrong in their lives that their relationship is the only good thing they have, and it’s worth it for them.
It is the most unexpected romance I’ve ever read, where the stakes get higher, and the lows are real low, but it is so good. One of my favorite parts of the novel is seeing them, Wavy mostly, fight for their love in spite of how the world is fervently against them. I couldn’t help but cry in some moments because the hurt and love these characters felt so real.
Like the moment when Kellen reassures Wavy that she wasn’t dirty, something which her mother continuously warns her about.
No. He said, if you love me as much as I love you, it’s not dirty. I loved him all the way and that meant nothing was dirty.
Another thing I really enjoyed about this novel are the different point of views the author offers, and what it does to our understanding of their relationship. When the story is told through Kellen or Wavy’s point of view, I would get so wrapped up in their lives I would forget the vast age difference between them. When it was told through points of view of people outside of their relationship and even strangers, it reminded me of how they were looked by the rest of the world. Greenwood doesn’t hide the fact that their romance is problematic, she acknowledges it head on.
It is one of the most incredible relationships I’ve ever read about, and one that I know will stay with me for a long time. So please, go with an open mind and enjoy “all the ugly and wonderful things” novel has to offer (pun intended but appreciated)