When I originally thought about starting a blog, I was going to dedicate my posts to doing book reviews with ratings. When Covid struck and I finally decided to take the leap, some personal stories seemed more appropriate. Now that we are creeping a little bit towards normal and people are asking for book recommendations, I thought I'd share one that continues to grapple with my heart.
Book Title: "All the Ugly and Wonderful Things"
Author: Bryn Greenwood
I remember reading this book and being absolutely stunned. In a time when there is still so much uncertainty, I encourage you all to pick this book up and find out about all the ugly and wonderful things that exist beyond the lives we live and the truths we think we know.
"All the Ugly and Wonderful Things" is unlike any book I have read before. From the very first page, this novel pulls you in and does not let you go. This story revolves around Wavona Quinn, a 9-year-old living in a world she could have never wished for, but one that is all she knows. It leads you through the ups and downs of her life and the lives of those closest to her, including tales that will make you question what you truly think is right and wrong.
Wavy, as she comes to be called, had the unfortunate luck of being raised in the home of two drug addicts, her father running an underground meth lab just down the street. For as long as she can remember, this is her home and her normal. She sees her father with different women every night, despite still being married to her mother, who is barely awake enough to say goodbye before her kids go to school. She witnesses the effects of the drug use on those who frequent her home and learns to raise herself and her younger brother, Donal. There is simply no one else around or sober enough to make meals, pick out outfits and clean up. Because of Wavy's limited trust of others, she refuses to speak to anyone besides her brother, even when she is being abused, sometimes by her own father.
When a young man, Kellen, crashes his motorcycle outside of Wavy's home, her world takes a dramatic turn. You can decide if for the better or worse. Wavy and Kellen form an unbreakable bond that starts as companionship and progresses into so much more over the years. Kellen brings Wavy to school, cleans the house, puts her father in line when he gets physical with her, and is someone that Wavy can actually confide in. Wavy finds her voice when with Kellen.
This story brings you through Wavy's journey of becoming a young woman, falling in love, and caring for her brother. Wavy sees and lives through things that no child should ever have to, but finds solace in knowing Kellen is there for her. She truly believes that he is her everything and that nothing else matters but him. The description of their relationship will leave you wondering what love truly is and how far someone will go to preserve that love.
The relationship-building and foreshadowing in this book is brilliant and leads to a fascinating ending that you will never see coming. The sad reality of this story is that many children are raised in homes and environments such as Wavy's, where they have to take care of themselves in order to survive. These children will look for love in all the wrong places. It is truly heartbreaking how innocent little souls can be forced to mature so quickly.
The dramatic finale of this book includes murder, suspicion, accusations, secrets, lies and so much love. Although the outcome may seem strange to some, it is the greatest possible ending for a situation like this.
Without giving away all the details, I truly recommend this book because it opens your eyes to the internal struggles that so many people, especially children, go through on a daily basis. This book will have you questioning your moral compass and wondering if what you thought about a situation like this before is still true. As a book that I picked up on a whim and was skeptical of, I cannot speak enough about how amazing and touching of a story this was. For days after reading this, I was avidly thinking about what I would have done if I were an outsider looking in on Wavy and her family. Would I have helped? Would I have turned a blind eye? Although ugly in all sense of the term, this book was truly wonderful.
Now more than ever, I think we are all focusing on ourselves and our families, but it is still important to think of those around you that are suffering in ways you will never know. Children are the greatest gift on this earth and they all deserve the best life possible. If this book taught me anything, it's to continue to be grateful for the wonderful childhood I had, the relationships I have today, and the blessings that I continue to count. My suffering may seem like a lot to me, but in comparison to others, I am so very lucky.