All the Ugly & Wonderful (and super uncomfortable) Things

I went on a short reading hiatus. Having two Real Housewife Seasons, Handmaids Tale, Orange is the New Black and Euphoria Seasons to watch at once will do that to you.

It took me a long ass time to pick a book to restart my reading bug and I finally came upon All the Ugly & Wonderful things by Bryn Greenwood.

Book Cover: Night sky with stars, Yellow grass towering above, words read Bryn Greenwood, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

This is a five star recommendation, it’s easy to fall into, you really catch on to the characters quickly, the plot line flows and it hits the six senses, with the six senses being sight, sound, taste, smell, touch and the heart.

All that said, it was a rather uncomfortable read as well. Major Trigger Warning for sure. The depths of the storyline dip into and brush against sexual abuse, neglect and love, and while reading it you can’t help but feel like your rooting for something that’s very very wrong.

After finishing the book I had to sleep on it a bit to understand what just happened.

This book examines a love story between a grown adult male, childlike in thinking, and a young girl, mature in mind. And the word love story transforms along the way, love is not a romance novel in the grocery aisle, these characters demand that we see it for what it is: many things. There are also other forms of love present in this scene: family, friendships, and a whole bunch of codependency.

Typically, abuse and neglect are looked at in a very black and white way. Good Touch. Bad Touch. And where there’s harm, love isn’t possible. But Greenwood’s novel depicts the opposite for us, showing us where love cuts through the cracks of very dark and damaged places. As someone who works with incidents of domestic violence I think exploring the gray areas is such a unique and intriguing approach.

If all there is is bad, could bad love be so bad? Each character struggles with this throughout the novel while representing a variety of view points. The raw choices and mistakes they each make along the way through the process of trying to care for others or forsaking their responsibilities towards others. Each character displays the notion that we can hurt the people we love and love the people who hurt us.

In finishing this book, I don’t think this question has been answered to the fullest, but the thought process that unfolds. It reads easy, is full of breath and voice and has lots of beautiful moments. Highly Recommend but would suggest those triggered by the matters above to avoid this book.

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