Book Reviews

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things – Bryn Greenwood (Book Review)

//I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. That, in no way affects my opinions of the book.

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Title : All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

Author : Bryn Greenwood

Genre : Adult Romance, Contemporary, Literary Fiction

Standalone

Releasing : 9th August, 2016


Summary

Goodreads summary:

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.

General Thoughts

And again, I’m in the minorityLooking at all the brilliant 4 and 5 star reviews of this book on Goodreads, my brain is compelled to ask me whether something is wrong with me, and how is it I always end up having unpopular opinions of such popular, well-loved books? I can see why people love this book, I can see the good and the wonderful things in this book, but I simply cannot ignore the ugly in it either. I just feel so indecisive about what I feel for this book; its’s been about 3 days since I finished this but I’m still unsure about what exactly my opinion is on this novel. So, please keep in mind that some of my thoughts might appear ambiguous, but that’s the best I can do right now. 

Pros

1. Unconventional storyI’ve never read something like this before. Never. The concept might be a recurring trope in books – wreckless, ghastly parents which lead to a damaged childhood – but the actual story, which is basically a love story between a young girl and a grown-up man, is completely different and unconventional. I initially felt that I had read enough of this trope, but the unique story added more depth to the trope, and it was something completely different and heartwarming.

2. Process of falling in loveI couldn’t find another heading for this point so this will have to do :P So, the initial 50% of the book was basically about this little girl (Wavy) and Kellan (who’s a grown-up) falling in love, and even more than that – forming a connection. The way they get to know each other, save each other’s lives (literally and metaphorically), and slowly develop feelings – this whole process was beautifully potrayed and written.

3. Different POVsThe book is written from the POVs and perspectives of a number of different people, some directly connected to the story and some as mere background or secondary characters. Surprisingly enough, every perspective adds something to the story, adds another layer and adds more meaning. I loved reading all the different POVs and the author just did a lovely job of making each voice stand out and matter.

Cons

1. The sex I remember when I was reading this book, during the initial 15-20%, I was constantly thinking to myself “I’m very uncomfortable with where this is heading“. I was literally constantly thinking this. Because, I was uncomfortable. At that time, I was just weirded out by the growing love between the two characters (and the girl was 8 years old then) but I later on came to accept that relationship differently but THEN, the sex started. Okay, maybe not sex, but handjobs and kissing and making out and all this talk about breasts. And that was really weird and just, I don’t know. Most people justify it as being in love and healing each other’s broken selves, but I don’t see it as anything other than a thirteen year-old giving a handjob to a fully grown-up man. And that irks me.

2. The ending dragged onOr rather, the latter half dragged on. I feel that the book could’ve been shortened and there wasn’t need for lengthening it, and it got really boring and dramatic by the end. A little less would’ve made me finish the book with positive feelings.

Recommend to?

Contemporary and Romance lovers, if you’re not irked out by the cons I mentioned.

A ‘good book’ or a ‘good read’?

Both.

My Rating

3/5 stars

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4 thoughts on “All the Ugly and Wonderful Things – Bryn Greenwood (Book Review)

  1. I’m really concerned how the book is perpetuating a relationship between a thirteen year-old girl and a grown man. Is there any commentary on how that dynamic is or how that dynamic can be harmful? Because… I mean… THE PURE FACT that they were getting sexual with each other is really concerning because, again, she’s thirteen. There’s a power imbalance from the start and I can’t think about how that cannot be a healthy relationship.

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    1. There was absolutely no commentary about such kind of a relationship being harmful, in fact it was shown to be a ‘wonderful’ thing. I understand that the girl’s childhood was horrible, and he basically took care of her and healed her and okay, maybe even more than love, it was about being a ‘companion’ or something. But I still couldn’t get over the sex. The way it is written is quite disgusting and I just couldn’t stop picturing a young little girl with a big man. Also, I was surprised that on Goodreads, hardly any reviewer talked about this issue. They were all so cool with it and actually called their relationship heartbreakingly beautiful!

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      1. This is really upsetting. If I’m being honest something like this disgusts me a little bit. I mean it’s a grown man having an intimate relationship with a thirteen year-old girl. In my mind I don’t think an age gap like that can ever have a healthy dynamic or equal relationship. I can go deeper into this, but it’s mostly her being thirteen and him being an adult. She’s still trying to come to terms with her life and individuality–I don’t think she’s in any position to have that kind of relationship with an adult. I’m so uncomfortable.

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        1. Yes, I totally agree with you. While I was reading the book, I was constantly thinking of how uncomfortable I was getting. Even if you accept the fact that they were in love, I would rather they don’t have sex until she’s older. No matter how much the girl wanted to do it, or no matter how much they were in love, it’s still upsetting and I was cringing the whole while I was reading it.

          Liked by 1 person

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