All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

By Bryn Greenwood

  • Release Date: 2016-08-09
  • Genre: Literary
Score: 4.5
From 272 Ratings
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- A New York Times and USA Today bestseller
- Book of the Month Club 2016 Book of the Year
- Second Place Goodreads Best Fiction of 2016

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 star gazing 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.

31 Books Bringing the Heat this Summer —Bustle

Top Ten Hottest Reads of 2016 —New York Daily News

Best Books of 2016 —St. Louis Post Dispatch


  • Wow

    By tikawika
    All I can say is that this book is very disturbing. I could not put it down though. I had to find out what would happen at the end.
  • Loved it!

    By Rockey112893
    Seriously struggled to put it down to do housework.
  • I can’t believe what I just read.

    By Athielqueen
    I finished this book last night and I can’t stop thinking about it. I don’t normally write reviews, but I’m just so disgusted and disturbed by the book’s ending that I need to vent somewhere . I appreciated the quality of the writing, and the alternating perspectives. I had no problem with the explicit language. However, a 13 year old can NOT consent! Why did the relationship between Wavy and Kellen have to be sexual? He loved her since the first time he saw her, and knew he wanted to be with her, even though she was 8. Why couldn’t he nurture her without being predatory? Even if she “wanted it,” she was too young DEVELOPMENTALLY to make those decisions. I honestly thought she was going to move on, and get rid of this messed up relationship so I kept reading, regrettably. Also, her aunt was simply trying to keep her safe! She jeopardized and ultimately lost her marriage to take care of Wavy and Donal, not to mention fostered and supported her education. I mean, she was majoring in astrophysics. She was completely painted as the bad guy for trying to keep her underage niece from a sexual predator who couldn’t control himself. The message I got from this book is that older men preying on young girls is ok, as long as they truly “love” them. Disappointing and gross. I will not be recommending this book or reading any more from this author.
  • NOT a love story

    By Lrv268
    I feel like I must be reading a different book than the one described. This is not a beautiful love story. It’s a story about a twenty-something year old man falling in love with a traumatized 11 year old. My opinion: read something else.
  • All the ugly

    By Christal Doll
    This book starts of great, then you get in a little deeper and it changes the feeling about the rest of the book. It's disturbing a grown man sneaking in a little girls room, and falling asleep on her bed, and waking up with a hard on. Disgusting !!!
  • So nice to have a more realistic version

    By mistlovesblue
    Of how life for a lot of kids and families is...or closer to it than almost any other book has come to it at least that I've read.
  • Loved it!

    By julielovestoread
    Great book!
  • A shock of reality

    By RavenWords
    This book made me sad, angry and then torn over what it must be like to pick up the pieces of a broken life. This book was difficult to put down and I truly fell in love with the characters. I definitely would recommend this book.
  • All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

    By Jasmyn9
    When you start All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, you need to keep an open mind. Wavy is not your usual kid. She won't eat in front of people, she won't talk, and she takes care of her brother that's just a few years younger than she is. It isn't an easy life and her parents aren't really a part of it. Even though her childhood was so different and neglected, there is a level at which I was able to connect with and understand her. I understood why she had each and every oneof her odd behaviors, and I didn't find that they made her a freak or wierd, I found that they made her unique and special. Wavy had a brilliant mind. And she loved easily. When she meets an associate of her father's, Kellen, she sort of reverse adopts him. They become inseparable, but their relationship takes a dangerous turn before Kellen and turn it around. There are parts of this relationship that seem incredibly pure and unable to be tainted, and there are parts that made me feel sick to my stomach. The author definitely knew how to make me, as a reader, feel on every single page. The story tells Wavy's story from the beginning until after college. It's one rollercoaster ride of a story. You will either love or hate the people she meets along the way. Some never change, and some do. Just like life. It's hard to describe this book well without giving everything away, but I do think you should read it. It is mind-opening and strange, it has a tarnished purity to it, and I couldn't put it down. As the title suggests, not everything beautiful is good, and not everything ugly is bad.
  • Odd Salacious Story

    By DBecker607
    The story is unique and delves into family dysfunction, drug use, and the profound effect on the children, especially a highly sensitive girl child. It tells the story of an unusual relationship between an adult who is marginalized member of society and the child, largely abandoned, neglected and emotionally abused by druggie parents and an assortment of low life adults. While it begins well with revealing entry into the child's world, it declines to what I believe is porn that was seriously disturbing between the child and the man. The storybook ending crammed into one chapter really doesn't adequately defend the writers choice to oversexualize the young girl earlier in the book. Rather than highlight an unusual love with it pretends to do, it simply makes for a disturbing salacious read, and it wasn't necessary. The detail was so finely tuned that I had the feeling it was autobiographical.