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All booksContemporary fictionAll the Ugly and Wonderful Things
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
Contemporary fiction

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

by Bryn Greenwood

Quick take

Love a good antihero? This unlikely love story stars two outsiders striving for more than the cards they were dealt.

Why I love it

Nina Sankovitch
Bestselling Author

Prepare yourself for one of the strangest but also one of the most genuine, and unforgettable, love stories you'll ever read. Bryn Greenwood's pristine, evocative writing is perfect for creating this deeply hypnotic tale about love found in the most unlikely of places—a backwoods meth lab in the rural Midwest.

Wavy is the daughter of a man who runs the meth lab. Her circumscribed world is woefully bereft of anything wonderful; her short life has been a daisy chain of abuse, abandonment, and hopelessness. When we first meet her, she is just a child, already deeply scarred by mistreatment at the hands of her drug-addled mother and drug-producing father. An unlikely rescuer appears in the shape of Kellen, the hired muscle at the lab, an over-sized misfit just as damaged as Wavy—but more than twice her age. Wavy is so starved for love and affection that her heart opens to Kellen, and Kellen cannot help but enter into the relationship she offers him.

It is a strange sensation to be rooting for a little girl and the much older thug who goes beyond rescuer to become her lover. But amid all the very ugly things in the world these two inhabit (very, very ugly), their connection is the only wonderful thing they have. If you fell for the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast (and who didn't?) you will fall for this very offbeat pair. So I found myself wishing the couple happiness through their many trials. The course of true love never runs easy, not in fairy tales and certainly not in the very real, very grim world the two lovers inhabit.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is the ultimate noir fairy tale, with Wavy as the wounded beauty, small and blonde, abused in body and spirit, and Kellen as the beast, big and hulking but just as broken. The evil father, wasted mother, and other family members, all have their roles to play—and they all impart truths that move the book along at a fast and mesmerizing pace.

I read this stunning book in one go. It was well worth giving up a night of sleep to become part of this strange tale of love unfolding in an ugly world. Because in the end, no matter just how wrong Wavy and Kellen are for each other in so many ways, in the most important way, they are just so right.

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Member thoughts

All (2010)
All (2010)
Love (1535)
Like (380)
Dislike (95)
2034 ratings
  • 75% Love
  • 19% Like
  • 5% Dislike
  • Grand Rapids, MN

    I can’t stop recommending this book to all of my friends looking for a page turner. I found myself thinking about this book long after I finished! No self control in putting this book down before bed!

  • Saint Louis, MO

    The molé sauce of literature-rich, smoky, smooth, things that don't go together blending seamlessly to the point that you're unsure you should like it. Genuine feelings and breakneck, beatnik prose.

  • Union City, NJ

    Thank god for that ending! This story puts you through a real stretch in terms of blurring the lines of what you would normally label as, well, normal; it's a heartwarming exercise and so well written

  • Bowmanstown, PA

    AMAZING! I related to Wavy with meth using/dealing parents, bikers coming and going, domestic abuse, being invisible children, a lifelong love where the time is never right. Exquisitely written novel

  • Santa Maria , CA

    This has become one of my favorite books of all time. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things challenged not only what I believe (especially in terms of love) but also how I view the people I meet everyday.

  • Anderson, IN

    Holy smokes. Here's a book that pushes limits in every way. I felt physically uncomfortable reading parts of this, but I fell head over heels in love with these characters. Not your average love story

  • Rockaway, NJ

    Couldn't say enough fantastic things about this book. This has become my favorite book of all time. Heart-breaking, you get a different perspective, makes you second guess your judgement. THE BEST!

  • Cave City, AR

    This book definitely lives up to its title. Wavy had an 'ugly' life. She did not have much of anything 'wonderful' at all. But boy if she didn't find something to cling on to, and man it's a shocker!

  • lexington, KY

    Absolutely understand why this was the book of the year! The Wavy's of this world deserve to have their stories told. A very thought provoking read. Some may be angry but EVERYONE deserves to be loved

  • Uxbridge, MA

    I loved this twisted book. I loved all the twisted characters and the crazy plot and the writing style. This book made you experience so many feelings and not many books do that. Very emotional read

  • San Antonio, TX

    Best book I've read in a long time. At first I didn't like the format of every chapter being someone else's point of view, but I was sucked into such an amazing story of childhood, love, and betrayal.

  • Austin, TX

    This book fucks with every notion you have of what's morally right. You know their relationship is wrong in the eyes of "normal society", but you can't help but love them and hope it works out somehow

  • New York, NY

    This is a hard one for me. I loved the love story aspect of it - I had a really hard time reconciling the fact that the girl was a child when she met the guy. It was thought provoking to say the least

  • Ardmore, OK

    This book killed me. I felt like I shouldn't love it, but there was a part of me that couldn't help but cheer for the main characters. My heart broke every time they struggled. I didn't want it to end

  • Houghton, MI

    So. I haven't actually read this yet. I started it, but lost it in a whirlwind of family during Christmas. HOWEVER, the part that I did read led me to believe that this book will truly be a winner. <3

  • Mililani, HI

    When I finished this book, my first thought was "WOW, that was so good!" then I wondered who I could possibly recommend this to? It's for anyone who will understand that life and people aren't simple.

  • Chelmsford, MA

    Wow. I found myself going though many emotions in this book. First intrigue on what would happen, then uncertainty with the direction, and finally hope that it works the way that I want. At times I di

  • Cullman, AL

    This book is so beautifully written and thought-out. I loved seeing where it would turn next. While some parts seemed a little (or a lot) unlikely, most of that was taken away by the character dynamic

  • Missoula, MT

    I don't know why I chose this book, because I was certain I wouldn't like it. Somehow, I did and it has stuck with me. I don't usually read books a second time, but I think this book may change that

  • Ferndale, MI

    This made me feel so many conflicting emotions I could barely stand it. The tension between wanting the characters to find happiness and hating the life they were forced into made it hard to put down.

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