Dennis Reviews: All The Ugly And Wonderful Things

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Book Title: All The Ugly And Wonderful Things
Author: Bryn Greenwood
Series: None
Genres: General Fiction
Pub Date: 08/09/16

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.


This review will be relatively short because I can’t really divulge too much of the plot without ruining the story for you. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is a beautifully written story by Bryn Greenwood, who has expertly delivered a successful narrative for us to devour. The story flips between various POV’s to portray the story of a young girl Wavonna (nicknamed Wavy) and her family in Oklahoma during the mid-1970s and 1980s. Wavy’s parents are both mentally unhinged meth dealers that spend their time in-and-out of jail, cheating on each other, and fighting. Wavy has an estranged relationship with her aunt/uncle and their kids, but she finds comfort in her friendship with Kellen, an overweight felon who works as a gooney for her father. Over time, their relationship develops into something more intense, and more deeply rooted than anyone could imagine. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things takes us down to the gutter with how some of the lowest of low live in the United States.

Alright, so this Bryn Greenwood is an amazing writer. She can tell a story so perfectly, that even when I’m completely disgusted with myself for continuing the story, I want to keep reading. There are so many different POV’s that I lost count, but Greenwood does not confuse the reader with unrelated sub-plots to divert us from the main story. This is probably the first time that I’ve seen an author so perfectly juggle so many different points of view without making a mess of the storyline. The story is also broken into five (5) different parts; starting off strong in Parts 1 and 2, but crashing and burning as the story develops. I really enjoyed reading the mess that Wavy’s family was in because it took me out of my element. It allowed me to see what other people around the country may be dealing with that is not part of my daily struggle. America has big drug problems, class inequality disparities, and vastly different societal roles so it was very entertaining to see how Greeenwood would develop the story. As we get into Parts 3-5, it really became a “love story” rather than a drama or tragedy. This is where the story became too filthy for me. I believe authors have a social responsibility to educate the reader when developing these taboo storylines. This “love story” between Kellen and Wavy was portrayed as one of the only positive elements to the plot, and that’s disgusting. I can deal with the element of pedophilia, along with the other themes in the book, if the story was more objectively portrayed. People who wanted to protect Wavy were painted as villains, weren’t provided a POV, nor had any character development. This is not a love story and shouldn’t have been marketed as one. Moments like this make me feel like I got caught in some cheap party trick to give someone (in this case, the author) attention for something undeserved. I wish you all success with this book, as this is obviously not a popular critic of this book. It just wasn’t for me. #bookBye #makeYourExitKellen

2 thoughts on “Dennis Reviews: All The Ugly And Wonderful Things”

  1. This was a book club pick for my group a couple of months ago. I appreciated the book but there were a couple of DNFs and some that finished and didn’t care for it at all. It makes for a good discussion but the reviews are definitely all over the place with this one.

    Liked by 1 person

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