All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood – Book Review

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One question that I’ve got to ask myself is How can I possibly review this novel?  Like the title says, it is definitely about all the ugly and wonderful things.  The ugly in this novel are also the most beautiful things about it.

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Wavy’s life has been one of despair, neglect and intense emotional and verbal abuse.  She has managed to raise herself and her younger brother, Donal as best she can.  Her father is a drug dealer, user and abuser; her mother is an addict and is mentally unstable.  However, Wavy has managed to carve out a life for herself and her brother when Kellen, one of her father’s “workers” enters their lives.  Kellen is the one who makes sure there is food in the house, that Wavy and Donal have clothes to wear, and that they get to school.  He is also the sole provider of all things “family”, including the care and emotional support that any young child needs.

Kellen himself is in need of connection, love and family.  As a survivor of childhood abuse and neglect, the family that they manage to make between the three of them is in itself one of the “wonderful things”.

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I don’t want to give too much away, so I urge you to read this novel yourself.  Greenwood gives us a lot of food for thought here.  She brings up difficult issues, makes us re-think what we know about abuse.  Mostly, though, she gives us a new view of “family”, what it means to love, and whether or not that love is “appropriate”.  I’ll be thinking about this novel for a long time to come.  Well done, Greenwood!

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