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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)

What listeners say about All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

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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.

12 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.

7 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.

4 people found this helpful

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Unnecessary sexual content

Really disappointed with the inappropriate sexual content. The story could have been good, but there was so much detailed sexual content with a minor which I found really quite disturbing.

3 people 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.

3 people 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.

3 people found this helpful

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Could not finish. Sex with 13 year old... Gross

Horrified by what this turned into . Sad and creepy . Cannot understand how this is an OK subject ?

2 people found this helpful

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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

2 people found this helpful

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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.

9 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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  • Michele McKeon
  • 22-01-19

Troubled - child rape dressed up as romantic

First the performance of this book is one of the best I’ve ever heard. Hands down. She was spectacular and I want her to read ever book to me. I heard each character every time! Fantastic.

I liked the story. It made me really want to keep reading. The characters were well developed and interesting.

Intentionally, I waited a over a week to post my review because I wanted to make sure I was clear in my analysis.

All of this said I had a huge reaction to the romanticism of the relationship between Wavy and Kellen. I actually fell into it for a bit until I remembered she was a little girl. This is a trap to create romance around a predator, to change the discussion that it was at the child’s urging or with her consent. Children can’t give consent. Ever. So what this was one long rape fantasy tied up in a happy ending so we all felt less gross about how much we liked the book. The one person protecting the child from those preying on her was made to be the bad guy.

I am truly disturbed about the glowing reactions to this book about and the description of the ‘relationship’ of these too people. Many people will fall for this aspect ignoring the violation of this child. The women in my book club had a hard time understanding why this was rape. I had to explain over and over. This type of romanticism of rape is damaging as a whole and does a grave disservice to victims and makes it much harder for people to understand predators.
Really disappointing.

209 people found this helpful

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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.

185 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.

87 people found this helpful

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  • Misty Walker
  • 19-09-18

Just don’t

This book should come with a warning and I believe it doesn’t because no one would read it. The summary and critics review is deceiving as to who the relationship is between. Spoiler alert: it’s a child and man! Who roots for that as the critics claim !? I do believe these things can happen due to dysfunctional families , but it doesn’t make it right.
I read part of the book and I thought it was leading towards a crush on the girls part, until he crawled through her window one night. I decided to look more into the reviews and I am glad I did to save myself from the disgust of what happens next. I am sure this book could have been much better if the authors character was 18 rather than 8.

69 people found this helpful

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  • Marion Gunter
  • 15-03-19

Disgusting

Could have been a good audiobook but the main characters were a child and her 26 year old molester....first time I called to get my credit refunded. A pedofiles dream. Disturbing.

66 people found this helpful

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  • Whitney Lewis
  • 05-11-18

Romanticizing Pedophiles

I can’t believe this book is legal. This is taking freedom of speech way too far.

In what world is it ok to depict sexual encounters between a pre-pubescent little girl and a grown man? Describing the details as if you’re reading an adult magazine. BUT WITH A CHILD! This is NOT a coming of age novel unless you’re normalizing sexual assault.

I would be horrified if my daughters read this book, thinking it was ok and romantic to be intimate with a grown man. It’s disgusting. I can’t believe this has anything above a one star.
I got 2/3rd of the way through and had to delete this. I felt wrong even listening to it.

57 people found this helpful

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  • Elaine Calvert
  • 02-01-20

Yuck

How I missed that this book was about a relationship between a young child and a grown man I’ll never know. I think this book was sickening. I am trauma trained and this book was like sitting through a class about abused children. No thanks.

46 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

111 people found this helpful

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  • Susan 🎧Audible-a-holic🎧 Crowe
  • 15-01-20

Whoa......boy......

This is hard. I read so many reviews for this book. I don't ever read reviews UNLESS I've finished a book and I am feeling a certain way. I loved it.....Did others love it for this reason that I loved it?
i hated it......Did others think this certain thing that i am thinking?
My reason for reading reviews for this one was IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BOOK....SHOULD I BE LIKING OR HATING THIS BOOK??!!! BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW HOW I FEEL RIGHT NOW!!!

This is a tough one. One minute i feel like crying until i have no more moisture in my body and the next i feel like puking until i have no more moisture in my body. There were times i was sooooo uncomfortable, not a soul was in the room with me and i have earbuds in my ears and i am sure my face is flaming hot. I feel sick. But OMG!!! There have never, in my years of reading, been two people who i felt loved each other as much as these two did. These two people had no one else in the entire world who loved them but the other. (with the exception of Donal) This is such a heartbreaking.....Lord, i have no words. I am actually sitting here shaking my head, lost as i am typing this out.

A lot of the bad reviews were people who hadn't even finished the book. I must be very honest...If i hadn't had a couple of people (friends) to tell me to keep an open mind, i would have been one of those that quit and rated it 1* and calling poor Kellen a pedophile.

Do i recommend this book? I don't know. It truly depends on you. If you aren't a liberal minded person who has even one ounce of compassion in your body, then no. If you do, try it. Because i can honestly say, it is a story that will most likely stick with you for the rest of your life. I am truly glad i read it. I feel i am a different person because of it.

30 people found this helpful

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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.

283 people found this helpful