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All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

A Novel
Narrated by: Jorjeana Marie
Length: 11 hrs and 8 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (268 ratings)

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Summary

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 stargazing 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.

©2016 Bryn Greenwood (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"Jorjeana Marie was meant to narrate this gripping story, which takes place in meth country in the Midwest. Neglected, abused 8-year-old Wavy Quinn is stargazing when she unintentionally causes Jesse Joe Kellen, an ex-con employee of her drug-dealing dad, to crash his motorcycle. Marie grippingly portrays this troubled pair who befriend each other after Wavy saves his life. Things come to a head when their relationship is misunderstood. In addition to deftly presenting the lead characters, Marie perfectly renders Wavy's adorable little brother and beloved grandmother. Some chapters are written from other characters' viewpoints over a period of 15 years, and Marie presents those flawlessly as well. Listeners will be eager to hear what happens next, always rooting for Wavy and Kellen." ( AudioFile Magazine)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Truly Addictive

Whoa! I don't think I've ever been as affected by a book or ever thought about a book constantly like I did with this. Contrary to many views I did not struggle with the content at all (I can understand why maybe some people would), I was constantly on tender-hooks waiting for something bad to happen, expecting things to get out of hand at any turn. So many emotions, so much happening. Told in multiple POVs, the story is gritty, tense and beautifully written. The story follows the obsessive relationship between Wavy (age 8) and Kellen who is about 12 years her senior. Wavy's family life leaves a lot to be desired, her parents are abusive and neglectful. Wavy doesn't speak and doesn't like being touched by anyone, until Kellen. He is her protector, her friend, her confidant and as the years go by, their feelings become more....... One of my favourite reads of the year. I loved it.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Lo
  • 30-11-16

Favourite book of the year so far!!

I loved this story because of the discomfort I felt while reading not despite of..

This author gave us a story that is original not only in it's content but in the way it's written as well.

4 people found this helpful

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Amazing handling of tricky subjects

This was very well narrated. The tale was so beautifully spun that one felt you had to cover your ears but you wanted to peep anyway. A true Romeo and Juliet tale but with a load more difficulty and brutality. Some very tricky subjects in here extremely well handled. This makes one question everything about everything! I can definitely recommend this amazing book and consider it to be one of the best I have read this year.

2 people found this helpful

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Ugly content but wonderfully written.

I have had this book on my wish list for sometime but kept putting off due to the content which I thought would not make for a good book.

So pleased I did spend the credit and I am mad for not buying it before now.

The content is rather disturbing, however it is not glossed over or made sensational.

The characters who you know you are not going to like start to grow on you, and you begin to understand them and their circumstances.

Narration is good but a little poor on differentiating between the different characters and male and female voices.


I would highly recommend this book.

1 person found this helpful

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Incredible

This book is amazing. It's one that will stay with me for a long time. It's like a modern day Romeo and Juliet story, only with paedophiles and drugs. I'm going to search for other books by Bryn Greenwood, I hope there are more on Audible.

1 person found this helpful

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heartbreaking, uncomfortable, beautiful

This was an excellent portrayal of an incredible, novel book. It is unusual in subject matter, insightful and moving. The performance was excellent and the narrator captured the characters without feeling fakey.
Stayed with me and was compulsive listening.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Creeped me out. Dislikable characters

This was well written but depressing and made my skin crawl in parts. I don't understand how a grown man can fall in love with an 8 year old girl and start to get physically involved with her at 13?? It was put to the reader as an almost Romeo and Juliet scenario, well, they were no star-crossed lovers to me. He should've acted appropriately if he truly cared about her. I felt like the author was trying to make me warm to Kellen, but I just couldn't get on board with his actions and was willing him to go to prison or die. And although I felt sympathy for Wavy as she was neglected by her mum, she is immensely irritating. Refuses to talk and runs around like a flipping animal and being horrible and dismissive of everyone - she drove me crazy. I spent a lot of time willing someone to give her a good slap. I didn't particularly like any of the characters except maybe Amy - Wavy's cousin.

4 people found this helpful

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Addictive and uncomfortable

Couldn’t put this down.

The story twists and turns. It will make you uncomfortable at some times, anxious at others.

We’re using this as our next book club topic and I can’t wait to discuss it.

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This book...

Taboo but gosh this story had to be written I read it a few years ago and got the audio to listen as reading isn’t so easy with a little one always wanting my attention. The feels all came flooding back. Not to everyone’s taste but gosh it sticks with you

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Beautiful book, I will listen to again and again.

This book now has to be one of my favourites!
I devoured it in days, the characters are believable and you really grow to feel they are real.
I like the narrator too which hardly ever happens.

5 stars

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  • Sherwyn
  • 23-09-17

Life Can Be Ugly

This book isn’t about your morality or your righteous indignations. It is not a glorification of pedophilia but a deep and unsettling dive into perspective (however being labeled as a romance is questionable and note that was done by the readers and not by the author). This book is about circumstance, situations and socialization. Fiction especially contemporary fiction usually has some base in reality, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is an examination of a trajectory of events in socialization and circumstances that shape mentalities, I do not feel like these characters are broken, these characters are coping with the hands they have been dealt and when you look at this objectively and not emotionally you can see the trappings of marginalized people, of children left to the devices of abusive and drug addicted parents.
It is well written, a play on opposites, a look at mental illness, dysfunction, heartbreak, abuse, it is about relationships.

71 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • jksullycats
  • 27-12-16

So many 'hard to listen to' moments

This is difficult to review. I wasn't initially captivated by the provided synopsis, but I got the book because so may reviewers had written to just get it. I read several reviews, and I can go back and check again, but I don't remember any that warned of the extremely graphic and vulgar language used to describe sexual acts. Put that little cherry on top that many are spoken by a girl no older than 14 years, who is experiencing them with a 24 year old man. I'm not sure I can express myself in a way that conveys my sincere distaste for those moments and there were plenty.

So, now you know. If you think you can look beyond it, there is a decent story here. But I can definitely say, it wasn't for me. Knowing what I know now, I would have passed on this one.

215 people found this helpful

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  • 🎧 Cyndi Marie 🎧
  • 12-09-17

I will be thinking about this for days!!!

Wow, this book... just wow! I went in completely blind having not read anything about it and only knowing that a friend said I had to listen to it and boy she was right! I've never read anything like this before and I was so enthralled from chapter 1.

My heart broke the entire way through this book because it is so tragic, dark and unbelievably real, so much so that I couldn't stop wondering about how many kids live the life Wavy did and how many of them don't have a Kellen to help them through it. I know she was young but I honestly think that growing up the way she did made her grow up a lot faster than most kids (not saying its right but just that it's real), And as unethical as their love is, it was beautiful!! Seriously we should all be so lucky to find someone who loved us as much as they loved each other.

The writing style also blew me away! I loved that we not only got the main characters POV but we also get the POV of so many minor characters. That truly made this book what it was in my opinion!

The narration for FANTASTIC!!! She really gives every character there own voice and does is perfectly! I've only listened to Jorjeana Marie once before and I wonder why I don't see more from her in my preferred genre.

Side Note:
Now that I've finished I went looking to see what other people thought and I have to say as ugly as the situation in this story is, it happens in real life so putting on blinders that everyone lives in a beautiful world is naive. And to think that everything is always black and white is also naive. The part in this book that hit me the most was Wavy's meeting with the judge and I think I too need to be reminded that everyone's lives & family's are real even when they don't match what I think it "normal and acceptable". Books like this open my eyes to the way others live or sure!

58 people found this helpful

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  • Michelle prime
  • 11-08-17

Beautiful novel full of ugly things.

I have over 400 books in my Audible library and have never written a review. I loved this book, but probably wouldn't write a review here either except I want to add my opinion to those slamming this book for the content, and the author for writing it. First of all, I thank God we live in a country where we can still write a novel about things that happen in real life and not be persecuted. Many of you want to persecute the author while applauding the entertainment you got from it. Secondly, while there were parts that made me uncomfortable, I appreciated how far the author went to show human feelings and frailty. It's this kind of writing that makes people stop and think and examine how different life can be from one person to the next. Stop your judgment and just think. Maybe your life had

28 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lori
  • 08-11-16

Just like the title - ugly and wonderful

Eight hours into this 11 hour book and I was thinking I had wasted a credit; I couldn't stop listening, but I wasn't happy. Then it ended and all of a sudden this wave of emotion hit me like a freight train. That never happens. What a weird book! The first part is beautiful, then it gets uncomfortable, then it makes you question everything you thought you knew about relationships and family, then it gets like a bargain bin book, then it just sneaks up on you and crumples you. It never panders to your emotions. It doesn't care what you think. Definitely worth the credit. And definitely worth the time!

79 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Cheri
  • 04-01-17

I'm In The Minority!

Contains some spoilers:
This was a hard story for me to rate and review. On one hand, the story was well written and I loved hearing all the different POV's, on the other hand, you have a 13 year young girl who's had hard life, and ends up developing feelings for an older man who has been there for her since she was eight. I've listened to several audios about young girls developing feelings for older men and I have to admit those stories were tastefully done and the things progress closer to a legal age. I do understand all the five star reviews, but I had mixed feelings about THIS story.Yes, Wavy had a hard life, grew up faster than most, but the whole story to me was on the depressing side. I felt the HEA, really wasn't that happy.

The plot was well written, descriptive, kept me right on the edge wondering what was going to happen next, and the character development was great, but overall I can only give this story two stars due sexual content of a 13 year with an older man. I know this is a fictional, and preteens/teens are sexual. I also personally know someone close to me who was pregnant at 13, married by 14 and has been happily married to the same person for the past 21 years, but this happened with someone close to their age and not an adult.

Jorjeana Marie did an amazing job narrating this story! There are some many characters, and emotions, this story had to be a challenge narrate.

75 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Alyse Stolz
  • 27-02-17

Not a love story everyone will love

I say be warned. The writing is beautiful and the story is something everyone would obsess over if it wasn't for the big detail of *when* the love story actually happens. If it wasn't for this detail, I'd probably love the book. But overall I'm just grossed out and not sold. Sex with children being portrayed as a love story isn't for me, no matter the circumstances or justification behind it.

60 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • ibillinsly@gmail
  • 04-06-19

4.37 stars............controversial

I don’t really know what to say about this audiobook. I knew nothing about it beforehand because I don’t read blurbs much of the time. Some readers will no doubt be offended by its premise. But, there’s a really good story here, which I think is the point of a novel. I found this story of hardship and growing up too fast to be a very good one, but some people won't be able to get past the subject matter.

Overall rating: 4.37 stars

10 people found this helpful

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  • Michelle
  • 24-08-17

Hit me right in the gut

I've never been inclined to write a review before. This story hit me hard. I'm a survivor of sexual child abuse. I've been a foster parent. I truly know all the ugly and wonderful things that can go on in the life of a child that has seen more tragedy than many adults could ever imagine. You find a way to survive and you make your life work. Wavy and Kellan found a way to make something beautiful out of the tragedy of their everyday existence. Am I condoning sexual relations with someone that is underage? Absolutely not. However, as someone that has been a foster parent of a very troubled teenage girl and someone that has been a troubled teenager, I know these things happen, whether they're right or wrong. I cringed during this story. Hoping they would stay together and not go too far until she was of age. I cried at the hands that life dealt them. I saw my foster daughter in this story and it made me want to pull her closer to me and tell her how much I love her and how sorry I am for all the ugly things she saw as a child and I pray that now she has something wonderful to make up for her past.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Rad A.
  • 19-08-17

rule breaker in every way

Game changer. This book rewrites the rules of love, family, intimacy, and asks questions not everybody will be comfortable with. I can absolutely understand why so many reviews refer to how inappropriate portions (if not the entire concept) of this book are; however, there is something to be said for taking on a subject such as this at all and another for creating a masterpiece with it. If you are mature enough to deal with the concept of an underage girl falling in love with a much older man, both coming from very difficult backgrounds, then listen to this book - you will not regret it. It’s been months since I’ve finished this book and the characters are still stuck under my skin, mostly due to the fantastic performance by Jorjeana Marie. Really glad I didn’t let all the naysayers stop me from listening to this one. For lovers of literacy at its finest, this is a must listen.

4 people found this helpful