All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow ... what a book! I'm not sure what to even say other than it was wonderful and disturbing and beautiful and disturbing. Not a happy go lucky sort of book. Very dark and well, disturbing. It's about a number of things but mostly it tells the story of Wavy who is being raised by her drug addict mother and who is raising her younger brother. She's on her own in more ways than one. It's the story of a girl who lives in difficult circumstances and her ongoing relationship with an associate of her father's who is considerably older. It can be very uncomfortable when you remember their ages throughout the story so if that might be an issue for you, this is not the book for you.
What I liked about it was how Bryn Greenwood never made a stance in her writing of this story. She let their story happen and leaves the reader to determine what they think about it. This was a really effective way to explore a taboo subject in a thoughful way. I love that the author didn't avoid the ugly things (hence the title). This girls life is hardly ideal but this is ultimately a story about taking care of yourself and finding your way in the world when you don't have the support every child should have. I found the story interesting and thoughtful. Very well done and realistically done which I think is one of the reasons that I loved it so much. It didn't wrap anything up in a pretty package - it went to a place that felt real and honest.
This is a really unique novel that I couldn't put down. I came away thinking about these characters and their lives long after the book was over. If you can get past the uncomfortableness of a story about a young girl and her relationship with a man, it's so worth the read. It's a beautiful story with characters that I think will stay with you for some time!