Book Review: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

Author: Bryn Greenwood

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Release date: 9th August 2016 (Hardback)

Genre: Contemporary Fiction (Adult)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars



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.


About the Author

BRYN GREENWOOD is a fourth-generation Kansan, and the daughter of a mostly reformed drug dealer. Her debut novel, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, is coming from Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s in August 2016. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas.

My Review

Whoa. This book is like a wrecking ball that’s going to leave you shattered and stunned in the best way. You’re going to appreciate the fantastic writing. You’re not going to be bored as the story jumps from the key characters’ point of view AND changes between first and third person- which the author pulls off effortlessly. You’re probably going to have feelings about this book that you can’t describe or explain. I’m not sure how to even begin to review it…

It is ugly and it is wonderful.

Ok, so I’m guessing this book will get a lot of controversy and heated discussion because of the “underage relationship” aspect but there’s so much more to this story and you shouldn’t be put off by feeling uncomfortable reading it. Yes, some parts of it you may feel uncomfortable but then some parts are so exquisitely tender and loving that you wish you had a relationship like Wavy and Kellen.

I expect every reviewer or book club speaker is going to give the obligatory disclaimer “so I’m not in favour of paedophiles or anything…”. Of course. Most people aren’t. Nor am I, so let’s move on. This is more of a story about soul mates, true love and finding a person to spend your entire existence with. It’s about a connection that runs so deep and vast, gazing in wonderment at the stars could only begin to mirror the beauty of it.

It was these moments of star gazing, or when Wavy explains the constellations, or when she says “Orion” or “Cassiopeia”, that absolutely broke me. This book has horrors and tragedy in it but it also has triumph and love that transcends the pages to become pure and raw emotion.

Do yourself a favour and read this book as soon as possible – don’t be put off by the synopsis or feeling awkward when reading it. You will feel the feels though. Be prepared.

I received an ARC from Netgalley in order to read and review this book honestly. Many thanks to the publisher and the author for the opportunity to read this before release. 






13 thoughts on “Book Review: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

    • It’s hard to describe because their relationship is non-sexual until the girl is about 13 (and after that any sexual interaction is completely consensual) but love is definitely recognisable from when they first meet. There’s a really good quote from the book that kind of sums it up –

      “I loved her the first time I saw her and I still do.”

      “Love at first sight, huh? How old was she?”


      “That’s creepy.”

      Liked by 1 person

  1. After reading your review, I went over to GR to see what was up with this book because– an 8 year old w/ a grown man????????? But then I saw like 999 5 star reviews, and hardly any negative ones!! I am super shocked and this must be a master writer to be able to pull that off!! So props to her!! But yeah— I have an 8 year old child, so I don’t think I could read this… even though it does sound like it must be great!


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