All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
Warning: This book discusses heavy topics, including rape, drug-addiction, abuse, etc. It is not for all readers, but it does discuss these topics in an appropriate matter, so you should decide for yourself whether it’s something you would be comfortable with.
Since this book came out, the hype for it has been unimaginable and yet the details of what made this book so shocking were kept quiet for the most part. I, myself, went into it without knowing a single thing about the storyline or the characters. Personally, I think this is the best way to read this book because it will be full of surprises.
What drew me in from the beginning was the writing style. It was so completely unique from others, simply because it told the story in a beautiful way, while not overdoing anything. There were no page-long descriptions, or information dumps, just the story told in the most simple, yet engaging way.
The story follows a damaged, yet determined young girl named Wavy. Growing up in a household with an addict for a mother, and an abusive father, she learns harsh truths at an early age. Despite everything, she carries herself with a quiet strength, never allowing others to hurt her like her parents have. She lives life on her own terms, which both isolates and empowers her.
Later on, we meet Kellen, who instantly connects with Wavy. In each other they find understanding and hope. People and life have let them down constantly, but their relationship never wavers and they find comfort in each other because of this. It is something so pure, yet almost horrifying to read. All I know is that despite everything, I was rooting for them to succeed despite all the bad in their lives.
I have many, but I simply can’t write them all in one review. This book provokes a lot of emotion, yet it does not try to do so. It simply tells a story, and readers feel what they feel. The discussions on this book have looked at the story from many perspectives, but what everyone can conclude is that this is a powerful story. Whether you felt disgust, anger, happiness, hopefulness, or any other emotion, it is a book you can’t hep but react strongly too. This book has gotten so much praise since it’s release, and rightly so. It is definitely one of a kind, and I would highly recommend to all who are willing to try something different!
This book pulled me out of an upcoming reading slump and for that I owe it. It is beautifully written, it's weirdly compelling and 300+ pages flew by without me even noticing (even though I found myself speed reading once I was almost finished, but we'll get to that later).
The story is about Wavy. She starts off by being a mere child, 5 years old I believe. She's the daughter of two drug dealers/addicts. She's got severe phobias and also refuses to talk. The only man she feels protected by is Kellen, a 24 year old man who works for her father. He takes good care of her and they both find great comfort in each other's company.
"I wanted a fairy tale ending for Wavy, because if she could find happiness, there would be hope for me, too."
Needless to say I had my qualms with this story. As the characters grow older they also grow closer. Wavy starts referring to Kellen as her boyfriend which is cute, when a child refers to a person they love as their boyfriend/girlfriend and the adult plays along that's cute. But that's the point, play along is the key expression here. Kellen is way too into this boyfriend/girlfriend roleplay. He even buys Wavy an engagement ring promising her that they'll get married one day. Wavy is surrounded by promiscuous women and is constantly exposed to a lifestyle solely based on sex and drugs. Eventually she starts sexualising herself and starts wanting more from this relationship. At first Kellen rejects her attempts at "going all the way" but eventually gives in. Although not in IN, like, half in, which means that he didn't 100% have sex with a 13 year old girl. Just... 75% maybe? And that's the point. Like, ok, I can make do with a storyline like this, pedophilia exists, these two characters are both messed up, but when a third-party says:
"I'd been so eager to see it as this beautiful romance, that I was willing to overlook Kellen having sex with little thirteen-year-old Wavy"
... HELL NO! I cannot make any do with that! A part from the very few people who just saw the situation for what it was, creepy and just straight on wrong, everybody else was like "Yes but they were in love, it doesn't count as rape! TRUE LOVE IS STRONGER THAN ANYTHING ELSE!" I understand love (kinda. maybe. I try, ok?) and I would have tried to look for a way to make a grown ass man falling in love with a little girl acceptable if he hadn't gone "all the way". Having sex is not a mandatory requisite for a romantic relationship, it doesn't matter how "mature" the little girl is. She's still 13 for goodness' sake! How can you even do the things you do with a child and then complain that they made you share a room with actual pedophiles? Fine, you're not attracted to all children, but you should have known better than letting a child near you genitals and viceversa. Or am I wrong? Have I gotten the rules all mixed up? In my introduction I said that I speed-read the last chapters of this book and that was because everybody turned into this pedophilia-apologist that I just couldn't keep it together anymore.
And this passage:
"Wavy was almost as small as she'd been at thirteen.(she's 21 now) She was all long legs and narrow in the hips. Her tits were perfect, but not even big enough to fill my mouth, let alone my hands. She hadn't hardly grown at all. Did it make me a pervert that I still thought she was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen? Did it make me less of a pervert that twenty and thirteen looked the same on her?"
This was not the first time that Wavy's prepubescent body was sexualised this way and every time her breast was pointed out by some adult I just wanted to pour bleach in my eye balls! Why, oh dear why? Every female grows breasts, why is the fact that Wavy's grown her own so goddamn fascinating by everybody around her?
As for what I did like instead I really liked the characterizations of some of the characters, Wavy's was an extremely fascinating one and I would have loved to know more about her mother's backstory. The story is told from different POVs and I think this mean of narration was on point, it worked really well. Sometimes the story would be told in first person, some others in third but it wasn't confusing at all. Plus I love the title, "All the ugly and wonderful things", which is also referred to in the novel. Beautiful!
In conclusion, I strongly disliked the points this book was trying to make but I also appreciated the package it came into. Go figure!