Book Review: All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

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All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood—is the account of a young girl named Wavy and her existence in the Midwest’s most desolate region. Wavy is used to being independent despite having illegal drug dealers as parents. When Wavy’s mother is imprisoned for drug-related offenses, she is taken to reside with her grandmother when she is a little child. Keep reading to discover more about the book!

After reading this book, I was forced to re-evaluate my opinions and views. The antagonist and protagonist appear to have reversed places entirely in this book. Actually, I could write a whole book about this book! I finished this fantastic book in less than a week! Giving up nights of sleep to participate in this unusual story of love developing in an ugly environment was worth it.

All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood” is written in an intelligent style, with realistic details and first-person characters whose points of view change as the story progresses. Readers rush to flip the pages to the end because it is so engaging and intriguingIt was the oddest love story I’ve ever read, yet it was one of the most heartfelt and memorable.

Reading everything I’ve written above, you might have a lot of thoughts and questions about the book (if you haven’t read the book). Don’t worry. I don’t intend to leave you hanging with this curiosity of yours. Scroll down to read more!

All the ugly and wonderful things by Bryn Greenwood | Book Review

All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood book cover

The Author

Bryn Greenwood

Fourth-generation Kansan Bryn Greenwood is one of seven sisters and the offspring of a heroin trader who has primarily turned his life around. She is a Lawrence, Kansas, resident, and graduated from Kansas State University with an MA in Creative Writing.

The Reckless Oath We Made, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, Last Will, and Lie Lay Lain are among her New York Times bestselling books.

Book Overview | All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

Full Title: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

Author: Bryn Greenwood

Genre: Fiction

Publishing Date: 9 August 2016

Page Count: 432

Main Characters: Wavy, Kellen, Val, Liam, Amy, Jesse Joe Barfoot Jr., Donal, Brenda

Themes: Mental disease, conflict in families, child abuse, compassion, empathy, love

Point of View: The point of view of the book alternates among Quinn, Kellen, and a few side characters on an episodic basis, reflecting various facets of the protagonists’ conflicts through the inner monologues of people around them.

Setting: The story of Wavonna “Wavy” Quinn, an ex-convict born in the car’s back seat to a small-town drug dealer, is set in rural America in the 1960s and 1970s. Wavonna was adopted as a baby by her small-town drug dealer father.


Wavy knows not to put her trust in anyone, not even her parents, because she is the daughter of a meth dealer. Eight-year-old Wavy, who is trying to raise her younger brother, is the sole accountable “adult” in the area. The beautiful Midwestern night sky above the meadows behind her home gives her calm.

Everything changes one night when she sees Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a good heart who is one of her father’s thugs, crash his motorcycle. What happens next is an intense and startling love story between two unusual people that raises complex issues and serves as a reminder of all the positive and negative aspects that life has to offer.

Book Summary | All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

Wavy is a young woman who was never loved and now hears from her mother that she is filthy and disgusting. We first meet Wavy at the novel’s start when she is just five years old and has already suffered permanent harm from her physical and psychological abuse. She is mute, won’t let anyone approach her, and cannot eat in public due to physical limitations.

Wavy naturally distrusts grownups, as one might anticipate, at least until she meets Kellen. Kellen is the exception, despite being a con artist and being called a “fat slob.”

He can penetrate Wavy’s defenses and establish a connection with her in a way that her younger brother and grandmother, the other two crucial figures in her life, were unable to. She, a lonely girl, meets a lonely boy, but the story is completely turned around because of their enormous age difference. When Wavy is just eight years old, she meets Kellen, 24.

Although Kellen represents safety and belonging to Wavy, concepts that were entirely foreign to both before their meeting, it is a distance that appears morally unbridgeable. In the middle of their terrible reality, their friendship is a way for them to find solace and identity for themselves.

However, Wavy and Kellen could not be more dissimilar in terms of looks: the text repeatedly highlights Wavy’s waif-like appearance in contrast to Kellen’s enormous bulk and beer belly. The relationship between Wavy and Kellen is complicated, filled with emotional issues, and tainted by their upbringing. It is hardly a fairy tale romance.

My Takeaway from the Book

All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood book

This book has redefined love. It is poetic and contentious. I have a lot of questions concerning social norms after reading this book. It forced me to confront a dilemma where I had to decide between morality and happiness.

In the end, I understood that it depends on the situation. We can’t judge anyone until we’ve been in their shoes, and that was my takeaway from this book, as this is something people usually do these days.

Two situations drove this approach of mine. One by the characters in the book and the other by the author herself because I have not been in any nearly similar situation as any of them, so deriving conclusions on my own wouldn’t be fair to the book as well as the author as she has included parts of her self into that book.

What do I Think of this Book | All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

This book has been incredibly motivating. It demonstrates that there is always a way to succeed, regardless of the situation. The reader is given a glimpse into the realities of many kids growing up in such situations. I believe that Wavy, the main character, indeed survived her family. It was challenging to read, but you will undoubtedly be forced to consider your rigidity and, let’s say, the societal taboos that we, the younger generation, still consider essential. Just like I did.

Initially, I was skeptical about the love story between the two solely because of the considerable age gap and the way their love unfolded, but, as I mentioned in the previous section as well, we can never judge anyone unless we’ve been in any similar sort of situation like them.

Overall, this book is good. Sometimes, I felt like the plot was going hastily, but I don’t think it ruined the story even by a bit. Though controversial, I’m glad I’ve read this book.

Ratings of the Book

I think this book deserves a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Conclusion | Book Review: All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

This book is challenging to read, indeed. It is incredibly dark and doesn’t hold back. But love also exists at its core. Love that most likely leaves you with uneasy mixed emotions, but that’s what an engaging book does. It keeps you thinking and rethinking the events that occurred. That’s precisely what this book does as well. You must read this book for sure!

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