Wavy has never felt safe, wanted, or loved. From a young age, she took responsibility for her younger brother, Donal, caring for him from babyhood while her parents and the adults around her wrecked themselves with the products of their large-scale meth lab. When a chance encounter brings Kellen--one of her father's drug runners--into her life, she finally finds someone who cares for her. Kellen becomes a friend and father-figure, but his and Wavy's relationship gradually veers toward romance as she becomes a teenager. A tragedy brings them under public scrutiny and they must deal with the fall-out from the relationship that kept them both alive but is unacceptable to the rest of the world.
There were many things I loved about this book, and I've been struggling with the direction it went and the things it asks the reader to accept--namely, that Wavy was effectively an adult no matter her age. Wavy was robbed of her childhood, then granted aspects of it back, and then again pushed into adulthood at too young an age. The various "ugly" situations--and the wonderful ones--are realistic and worth exploring in literature. For me, the "ugly" went a step too far and I wasn't able to root for the characters (as was clearly the author's intent) and what they thought they wanted.
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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. A powerful novel you won’t soon forget, Bryn Greenwood’s All the Ugly and Wonderful Things challenges all we know and believe about love.
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