All the Ugly and Wonderful Things: A Novel (Paperback)
— From Sarah T
- A New York Times and USA Today bestseller
- Book of the Month Club 2016 Book of the Year
- Second Place Goodreads Best Fiction of 2016
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 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. 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.
31 Books Bringing the Heat this Summer —Bustle
Top Ten Hottest Reads of 2016 —New York Daily News
Best Books of 2016 —St. Louis Post Dispatch
About the Author
Bryn Greenwood is a fourth-generation Kansan, and the daughter of a mostly reformed drug dealer. She earned an MA from Kansas State University and continues to work in academia as an administrator. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in The New York Times, Chiron Review, Kansas Quarterly, Karamu, and The Battered Suitcase. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas.
"If you're looking for a dangerous, shocking, and unexpectedly touching story, this is it...This is a book that will shake you to the core." —Bustle "31 Books Bringing the Heat this Summer"
"Captivating and smartly written from the first page, Greenwood's work is instantly absorbing. Pithy characters saunter, charge or stumble into each scene via raw, gripping narrative. . . . [Greenwood] tells her story as if lifting a cloth thread by thread, revealing heartbreaking landscapes and riveting dialogue in perfect timing. This book won't pull at heartstrings but instead yank out the entire organ and shake it about before lodging it back in an unfamiliar position." —Christina Ledbetter, The Associated Press
"This book destroyed me. I have never read anything like it. I came to the end of the novel with my mind-reeling, my emotions scattered, and completely unsure exactly what I did feel about it...but one thing is certain: I felt. Oh hell, I felt. I don't think I'll ever get these characters off my mind." —Emily May, #1 Worldwide most popular reviewer, Goodreads
"The title says it all. You will hold your little heart in your hands and keep blowing on it to make sure it's alive." —The Top Ten Hottest Reads of 2016, New York Daily News
"This is one of those books whose story, if you heard about it on the news or glimpsed some sensationalist headline, would be horrifying, but in THIS book, with THESE characters, where you are privy to interior monologues and backstories and a hundred examples of what defines them as people, it makes sense. It's two damaged people finding something in the other that answers a need, and it's unexpectedly touching. It's so, so impressive. Vibrant. Heartbreaking. Sympathetic. Her writing is astonishing." —Karen, #1 US most popular reviewer, Goodreads
"Bryn Greenwood’s All the Ugly and Wonderful Things [is] so freakishly good and dangerous that it should come with a warning label... The writing is direct and muscular, a snake with all the slithery danger of a coiled rattler on a hot rock. VERDICT: Greenwood (from Kansas, daughter of a “mostly reformed drug dealer”) astounds in creating a world where assorted murderers, felons, and thieves are sympathetic. Alternating narrators à la The Sound and the Fury create a dynamic where Lolita meets a dissonance of values/taboo romance like East of Eden, Damage, or The Little Mermaid." —Library Journal
"Bryn Greenwood has handed readers a strange - but strangely grabbing - tale." —Harry Levins, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Best of 2016
"Greenwood's haunting novel...is a story that will stay with readers long after the book is finished." —Lisa McLendon, The Wichita Eagle
"[A] powerful, provocative debut...intelligent, honest, and unsentimental." —Kirkus Reviews (STARRED)
"An emotionally resonant novel with an unlikely cast of characters you won’t soon forget. Bryn Greenwood’s unique voice and her understanding of human nature offer an amazing tale of family, loss, and love that’s as unpredictable and inspiring as love itself." —Brunonia Barry, New York Times bestselling author of The Lace Reader
"Written in lyrical and searingly honest prose, Bryn Greenwood tells a powerful story of love and resilience against the bleakest of backdrops. Like the best fiction, this is a novel that means to disturb and challenge as it forces us to look with compassion on every last one of its flawed, memorable characters. I was captivated from the first page to the last." —Patry Francis, three time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and author of The Orphans of Race Point
"Gritty and dark and tough and uncomfortable, but it's brilliantly constructed...Greenwood develops an incredible and resilient character in Wavy. It's an outstanding debut novel and I am itching for Greenwood's next book." —Kelly Jensen, Book Riot
"Greenwood is a gifted writer, and Wavy's story will stick to your bones long after you put this book down. These characters will fast become friends, and you will find yourself reluctant to leave their ugly and wonderful little world." —Madeline Lemieux, Creative Loafing Charlotte
"Incredible book alert...Another true page turner as Greenwood takes her reader on an emotional bungee jump that requires you to decide for yourself what you can and can not accept given the grimmest of circumstances." (5 out of 5 stars) —Erin Woodward, The Girly Book Club
"All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is just that: ugly and wonderful all at the same time. An epic love story...This book will be the birth of a vibrant debate about the law and societal norms as your book club members will truly be divided by the actions of our male lead. I'd love to be a fly on the wall for this one!" —InStyle UK
“Achingly raw and beautifully written, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is both a hypnotic coming-of-age story and a heartbreaking tragedy. Greenwood’s emotional prose and her well-drawn characters immediately drew me in and kept me captivated. I’m still thinking about Wavy, and her ugly and wonderful world, long after I’ve turned the last page.” —Jillian Cantor, author of Margot and The Hours Count
"Bryn Greenwood is so good it hurts. Her writing is lean, precise, elegant and dripping with the telling detail-the understated bit of dialogue that reveals everything." —Robert Ferrigno, New York Times bestselling author of Monkey Boyz, Horse Latitudes, the Prayer for the Assassin trilogy and other novels
"The author skillfully creates widely varied and original voices... a memorable coming-of-age tale about loyalty, defiance, and the power of love under the most improbable circumstances." —Publishers Weekly