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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 members say

Average customer ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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

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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • sarah
  • over wallop, United Kingdom
  • 28-01-18

Good story that draws the listener in

What did you like most about All the Ugly and Wonderful Things?

The depth of character that each person had.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It does make you think that there are several sides to the stories that you hear in the news. Nothing is black or white, bad or good, wicked or pure.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Good But Made For Uncomfortable Listening At Times

Would you listen to All the Ugly and Wonderful Things again? Why?

No, I don't think so because though it kept my interest and the reader was good, I found the plot line too uncomfortable in parts and I probably wouldn't have chosen this book if I'd realised how it was written.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

The story is about a child and a young man who fall in love and their relationship over several years. I would have enjoyed it more if the intimacy between the two had been left more to the imagination. The plot line is largely about how the relationship is viewed from the outside and from the perspective of the two people themselves and the author obviously sets out to push boundaries, but in my opinion he could have done well to appreciate that we have brains and can use our imaginations and that sometimes its better that way. For me in parts he turned what could have been a clever and interesting book into something trashy, which is a shame.

What about Jorjeana Marie’s performance did you like?

I thought Jorjeana ready the book very well, she brought the character of Wavy to life for me, both in her fragility and her strength.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There are some poignant moments in the book, the relationship between the two is gentle and deep and those parts are well written.

Any additional comments?

The narration is very good, the story is good but I think the author went too far in pushing the boundaries in places, he could have been cleverer about it. It's worth listening to but beware that the story does make for uncomfortable listening at times due to the explicit nature of the writing and the fact that the two main characters are a little girl and a man.

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

Excellent

True emotion which made you think twice about how you would respond with many of the situations

An excellent book

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Superb

A very difficult and sensitive subject really well written about. Dysfunctional people who found each other and never gave up hope of being together!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Thoughts out loud

Mesmorising story.. so touching and gripping I finished the book in 2 days. Though description of some scenes was a bit rough to my liking however it is indeed a story about the 'ugly and wonderful' things. I couldn't suggest a better title!

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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.

25 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

92 of 97 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Cyndi
  • 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!

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kelly P
  • 23-11-16

Satisfying Conclusion

I kept wanting to listen instead of attending to my day. I rooted for the main characters and wasn't disappointed.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

52 of 60 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Abby D. Charlton
  • 19-08-16

This is the best book I have ever listened to.

I listened to this book in one long stretch. I am crying as I have just finished the book and I am broken hearted that it is over. The book, the narrator, the characters....it was all simply fabulous.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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

52 of 63 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Angie
  • 27-11-16

Fantastic

I did not want the book to end. It's a week later and the characters are still with me. I never rate books but could not resist this one. If you only treat yourself to one a month this is guaranteed not to disappoint, I highly recommend it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Stacie Bombardier
  • 15-12-16

Difficult to see the wonderful among the ugly

Would you try another book from Bryn Greenwood and/or Jorjeana Marie?

Probably not-

What was most disappointing about Bryn Greenwood’s story?

It was a tragic love story, but since I have a 14-year old daughter, I could not help but to identify with the aunt's perspective.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

It was disturbing to me; glad others enjoyed it but I did not.

Any additional comments?

I have listened to many, many audible books and this is my first review. I do not see much wonderful in this sad, disturbing story. I almost wish I hadn't read it! But i know I'm in the minority. Maybe not for women with teenage daughters!

20 of 25 people found this review helpful