This is not an easy book to review. In fact, it wasn’t an easy book to read. It deals with difficult subject matter that is raw, gritty, and extremely emotional. Was it a good book? No. I would actually say that it is a great book. I struggled while reading it, but that was in no way reflective of the writing style. I even wrestled with what to rate this book. Normally when I read a book, a five star read will be a book that I simply cannot put down. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things was a book that I needed to take breaks from. It was an emotionally taxing read that I felt, at times, I had to take a breather from. I was completely invested in the story, and I wanted to know how the story would play out, but I just needed those little reprieves to escape the intensity of it all. With that being said, this is a book that I can’t seem to stop thinking about. It made me feel so much. Whether it evoked good or bad feelings, the one thing that can’t be disputed is that this book makes you feel.
Wavy was an interesting character. She was definitely a product of her environment. Despite her lack of communication and her strange eating habits, she was a highly intelligent child. She wasn’t raised in an idyllic family setting, she was neglected, and she was subjected to many things that a child should never be subjected to. She grew up fast and hard, often giving the impression of a feral child. My heart broke repeatedly for Wavy and her younger brother. They did the best they could with the hands they were dealt, but their own parents had failed them. The only constant, caring, giving person who provided Wavy with any sense of safety and security was Kellen, a grown man with a shady past of his own.
Jesse Joe Kellen cared deeply for Wavy. He was her friend, caregiver, and nurturer. He seemed to be the only person who Wavy could count on. He was somewhat of a lost soul, himself. He didn’t grow up under the best circumstances, he had poor self-worth, he got into trouble with the law, and he was still involved with criminal activities with Wavy’s father. There was something kind and gentle about the way he interacted with Wavy, but over time their relationship began to cross lines and tread into dangerous territory.
Wavy and Kellen’s relationship had me all twisted inside. On one hand, I was happy that someone loved Wavy, but on the other hand, Kellen’s feelings had gone from friendship to romantic, sounding off big alarm bells in my head. While everything about this relationship screamed wrong, there was something about it that worked for them. Did this make it right? Hell, no! They were two lost souls who found solace, companionship, and love at an inappropriate and dangerous time and place.
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things was aptly named. It dealt with subject matter that was disturbing and difficult to digest. It was a reading experience that was heartbreaking, uncomfortable, thought-provoking, and that pushed my boundaries to the max. I teetered back and forth, second guessing my initial reactions to the relationship that developed in this book. I hated that. What was so clearly and utterly wrong, didn’t seem quite so black and white as the story progressed. Whenever I read, I like to put myself in the shoes of the main characters. The author made it possible to see things from their perspectives. While my morals were still standing tough, I was able to see their relationship through their eyes. In a life that seemed to be drowning in ugliness, there was still some aspects of wonderful to be found.