Thursday, July 28, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: All The Ugly And Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is August 9, 2016.

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 star gazing 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. Kellen may not be innocent, but he is the fixed point in Wavy and Donal's chaotic universe. Instead of playing it safe, Wavy has to learn to fight for Kellen, for her brother, and for herself.

If you were to go by the other reviews, you would probably think this was a good book. Most of the other reviews give it four or five stars. 

I just have one thing to say to that.
Let's start with Wavy. Wavy's life is heartbreaking. She is bounced around between family members who can't deal with her and she works hard to take care of her baby brother, Donal. Wavy doesn't talk, she hates to be touched and she doesn't eat in front of people. Her mom has OCD and her stepfather is a meth drug dealer. Her mom's OCD has caused Wavy to think that she is dirty and she shouldn't speak or touch or be touched. It's so sad just how many issues she had thanks to her mom. 

Then she meets Kellen. She is eight years old when she meets him. She immediately develops a crush on him and at first, their relationship is very sweet. He is the only one who can touch her, he takes her to school every day and registers her when her mom can't be bothered, he feeds her, he doesn't pressure her to talk. He just lets Wavy be Wavy and I loved that. The premise was kind of vague, so I didn't think that there would be anything between them, other than a father/daughter type relationship. That's where I was hoping it would stay. And again, Wavy was EIGHT when she met him. Kellen was somewhere in his mid-twenties (24, I think). I totally get why Wavy had a crush on him. She is a child and Kellen was the first person to take care of her and since Wavy had always had to take care of herself, she loved that. And Kellen was the first person she could trust. But no, the author didn't stop there. Wavy is twelve the first time they kiss and when he gives her an engagement ring and she is thirteen when they start doing other stuff. I can't really talk much about Kellen. I thought his feelings for Wavy were sweet at first, but then I just thought he was dirty. 

I just have to say that when other reviewers say you have to be open-minded to read this book, I call bullshit on that one. 
I have counseled sex offenders before. Do you know how hard it is to convince those men they did something wrong when the eight year old or ten year old actually says yes? They don't understand that they are CHILDREN and are not capable of understanding what is happening. And of course these victims are manipulated so much that they feel like THEY did something wrong. So when there are people who look at this story and see a beautiful love story between two broken souls, it makes me mad. Really mad. I did not root for this couple. I rooted for Wavy to grow up and get a more appropriate relationship. I rooted for Kellen to be the adult he was supposed to be and take responsibility for his actions. I guess even worse than the "relationship" (and I use that term loosely) was the reaction of every single adult around them. 
Kellen and Wavy spent so much time together and everyone knew that they "loved" each other and yet, no one tried to stop it. Wavy's mom and her stepdad didn't care. Then again, her stepdad (Liam) slept with every woman who crossed his path and made meth at home so I guess he wasn't the best judge of what was appropriate. The only person who tried to stop this "relationship" was Wavy's Aunt Brenda and the author totally vilified her. Yeah, she tries to stop a relationship between her twelve year old niece and a grown man, but she was the villain.

Buy/Borrow/Skip: Please skip this one. Don't read this book unless you are "open-minded" enough to read about a child molester and the victim who loves him.

12 comments :

  1. Yikes, this sounds like a bit of a mess. I've been seeing this one around and was intrigued by the cover, but didn't know much about the book itself yet. Thank you very much for this review and saving me the time!

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    1. No problem Jordan. I don't even understand why there are so many rave reviews. I am glad I could spare you.

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  2. Omg I'm entirely disturbed and I won't be reading this book AT ALL. She was 13 years old when they got engaged??? But the no-talking/touching thing makes me wonder if Wavy had a disability? Did she? Because that's just super wrong if she was being taken advantage of on top of her just being a kid wanting affection. UGH. This wasn't on my TBR but just...I'm really ugruhruh.

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    1. Disturbing doesn't even begin to cover it. It's crazy. And no, she wasn't mentally ill. She just was suffering because of physical and emotional abuse by her mom. Her mom had OCD and clinical depression. Wavy didn't like people to touch her because her mom had taught her that ANY kind of touching was dirty. So sad. Wavy had major issues for sure and Kellen just took advantage of that. And of course, there was her age.

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  3. Ick. It's like when I read Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. I had a perma-grimace on my face every time the siblings will do things they shouldn't be doing. And yet, I'm morbidly curious.

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    1. Okay now you have me curious about that one Joy. This one just made me feel dirty though.

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  4. Ewwwwww. Thanks for the warning.

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    1. No problem Wendy. So happy I could help. :)

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  5. Wow wow wow. Words fail me. Like, I get if this was supposed to be some kind of heartbreaking cautionary tale, because like you said, this DOES happen in actual life, so I wouldn't be against it in a book as long as the message was something along the lines of "Oh HELL no!". But since it's apparently some kind of molestation "love" story... my goodness! And the people who say it's okay because they are both "broken"?! Um, no, I am pretty sure that makes it worse, but nice try. This should probably just be called "All the Ugly and Uglier Things". Just saying. Thanks for allowing me to dodge this particular bullet, so sorry you had to read it though!

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    1. Shannon, I think the only thing that kept me reading was the hope that it WAS just some kind of cautionary tale. I wanted Wavy to realize what he did was wrong and how unhealthy it was. It was just sad. And great idea for the new title. That sounds about right.

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  6. I'm confused because I thought I commented on this post, but I might have accidentally written my comment on some other person's random post. If so, they're going to be really confused about why I wrote about child abuse on their monthly wrap-up. Um, hmmmm ....

    Anyway, what I THOUGHT I already wrote here (maybe it went to moderation and I just didn't notice?) is that I think it's horrible that child abuse is romanticized. There are some things that are simply WRONG, and portraying this type of relationship as okay sends a really wrong message.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. Hahahaha Nicole, that is kind of funny. I can only imagine if someone gets that comment on their post. And I agree with you 1000%. I really, really wanted this one to end with a lesson or some kind of wake up call with Wavy where she realized how wrong it was. That was the only reason I didn't DNF it. And I really can't believe just how many people loved this one.

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