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Publisher's Summary

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 stargazing 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.

©2016 Bryn Greenwood (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Jorjeana Marie was meant to narrate this gripping story, which takes place in meth country in the Midwest. Neglected, abused 8-year-old Wavy Quinn is stargazing when she unintentionally causes Jesse Joe Kellen, an ex-con employee of her drug-dealing dad, to crash his motorcycle. Marie grippingly portrays this troubled pair who befriend each other after Wavy saves his life. Things come to a head when their relationship is misunderstood. In addition to deftly presenting the lead characters, Marie perfectly renders Wavy's adorable little brother and beloved grandmother. Some chapters are written from other characters' viewpoints over a period of 15 years, and Marie presents those flawlessly as well. Listeners will be eager to hear what happens next, always rooting for Wavy and Kellen." ( AudioFile Magazine)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    3,017
  • 4 Stars
    1,191
  • 3 Stars
    347
  • 2 Stars
    104
  • 1 Stars
    72

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    941
  • 3 Stars
    248
  • 2 Stars
    58
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    29

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    2,755
  • 4 Stars
    1,079
  • 3 Stars
    316
  • 2 Stars
    120
  • 1 Stars
    91
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not a love story everyone will love

I say be warned. The writing is beautiful and the story is something everyone would obsess over if it wasn't for the big detail of *when* the love story actually happens. If it wasn't for this detail, I'd probably love the book. But overall I'm just grossed out and not sold. Sex with children being portrayed as a love story isn't for me, no matter the circumstances or justification behind it.

25 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

So many 'hard to listen to' moments

This is difficult to review. I wasn't initially captivated by the provided synopsis, but I got the book because so may reviewers had written to just get it. I read several reviews, and I can go back and check again, but I don't remember any that warned of the extremely graphic and vulgar language used to describe sexual acts. Put that little cherry on top that many are spoken by a girl no older than 14 years, who is experiencing them with a 24 year old man. I'm not sure I can express myself in a way that conveys my sincere distaste for those moments and there were plenty.

So, now you know. If you think you can look beyond it, there is a decent story here. But I can definitely say, it wasn't for me. Knowing what I know now, I would have passed on this one.

91 of 96 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Cyndi
  • Beautiful Michigan
  • 09-12-17

I will be thinking about this for days!!!

Wow, this book... just wow! I went in completely blind having not read anything about it and only knowing that a friend said I had to listen to it and boy she was right! I've never read anything like this before and I was so enthralled from chapter 1.

My heart broke the entire way through this book because it is so tragic, dark and unbelievably real, so much so that I couldn't stop wondering about how many kids live the life Wavy did and how many of them don't have a Kellen to help them through it. I know she was young but I honestly think that growing up the way she did made her grow up a lot faster than most kids (not saying its right but just that it's real), And as unethical as their love is, it was beautiful!! Seriously we should all be so lucky to find someone who loved us as much as they loved each other.

The writing style also blew me away! I loved that we not only got the main characters POV but we also get the POV of so many minor characters. That truly made this book what it was in my opinion!

The narration for FANTASTIC!!! She really gives every character there own voice and does is perfectly! I've only listened to Jorjeana Marie once before and I wonder why I don't see more from her in my preferred genre.

Side Note:
Now that I've finished I went looking to see what other people thought and I have to say as ugly as the situation in this story is, it happens in real life so putting on blinders that everyone lives in a beautiful world is naive. And to think that everything is always black and white is also naive. The part in this book that hit me the most was Wavy's meeting with the judge and I think I too need to be reminded that everyone's lives & family's are real even when they don't match what I think it "normal and acceptable". Books like this open my eyes to the way others live or sure!

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Satisfying Conclusion

I kept wanting to listen instead of attending to my day. I rooted for the main characters and wasn't disappointed.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

I'm In The Minority!

Contains some spoilers:
This was a hard story for me to rate and review. On one hand, the story was well written and I loved hearing all the different POV's, on the other hand, you have a 13 year young girl who's had hard life, and ends up developing feelings for an older man who has been there for her since she was eight. I've listened to several audios about young girls developing feelings for older men and I have to admit those stories were tastefully done and the things progress closer to a legal age. I do understand all the five star reviews, but I had mixed feelings about THIS story.Yes, Wavy had a hard life, grew up faster than most, but the whole story to me was on the depressing side. I felt the HEA, really wasn't that happy.

The plot was well written, descriptive, kept me right on the edge wondering what was going to happen next, and the character development was great, but overall I can only give this story two stars due sexual content of a 13 year with an older man. I know this is a fictional, and preteens/teens are sexual. I also personally know someone close to me who was pregnant at 13, married by 14 and has been happily married to the same person for the past 21 years, but this happened with someone close to their age and not an adult.

Jorjeana Marie did an amazing job narrating this story! There are some many characters, and emotions, this story had to be a challenge narrate.

52 of 60 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Disgusting

I hated this book only got to chapter Twelve it’s creepy and disgusting not a good read for the grandmother of 5 beautiful little girls
I would kill that guy

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Life Can Be Ugly

This book isn’t about your morality or your righteous indignations. It is not a glorification of pedophilia but a deep and unsettling dive into perspective (however being labeled as a romance is questionable and note that was done by the readers and not by the author). This book is about circumstance, situations and socialization. Fiction especially contemporary fiction usually has some base in reality, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is an examination of a trajectory of events in socialization and circumstances that shape mentalities, I do not feel like these characters are broken, these characters are coping with the hands they have been dealt and when you look at this objectively and not emotionally you can see the trappings of marginalized people, of children left to the devices of abusive and drug addicted parents.
It is well written, a play on opposites, a look at mental illness, dysfunction, heartbreak, abuse, it is about relationships.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lori
  • St. Petersburg, Florida
  • 11-08-16

Just like the title - ugly and wonderful

Eight hours into this 11 hour book and I was thinking I had wasted a credit; I couldn't stop listening, but I wasn't happy. Then it ended and all of a sudden this wave of emotion hit me like a freight train. That never happens. What a weird book! The first part is beautiful, then it gets uncomfortable, then it makes you question everything you thought you knew about relationships and family, then it gets like a bargain bin book, then it just sneaks up on you and crumples you. It never panders to your emotions. It doesn't care what you think. Definitely worth the credit. And definitely worth the time!

52 of 63 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Fantastic

I did not want the book to end. It's a week later and the characters are still with me. I never rate books but could not resist this one. If you only treat yourself to one a month this is guaranteed not to disappoint, I highly recommend it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

This is the best book I have ever listened to.

I listened to this book in one long stretch. I am crying as I have just finished the book and I am broken hearted that it is over. The book, the narrator, the characters....it was all simply fabulous.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • LilleyLoohLah
  • 10-03-16

Truly Addictive

Whoa! I don't think I've ever been as affected by a book or ever thought about a book constantly like I did with this. Contrary to many views I did not struggle with the content at all (I can understand why maybe some people would), I was constantly on tender-hooks waiting for something bad to happen, expecting things to get out of hand at any turn. So many emotions, so much happening. Told in multiple POVs, the story is gritty, tense and beautifully written. The story follows the obsessive relationship between Wavy (age 8) and Kellen who is about 12 years her senior. Wavy's family life leaves a lot to be desired, her parents are abusive and neglectful. Wavy doesn't speak and doesn't like being touched by anyone, until Kellen. He is her protector, her friend, her confidant and as the years go by, their feelings become more....... One of my favourite reads of the year. I loved it.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Laura Pearson
  • 06-12-17

Creeped me out. Dislikable characters

This was well written but depressing and made my skin crawl in parts. I don't understand how a grown man can fall in love with an 8 year old girl and start to get physically involved with her at 13?? It was put to the reader as an almost Romeo and Juliet scenario, well, they were no star-crossed lovers to me. He should've acted appropriately if he truly cared about her. I felt like the author was trying to make me warm to Kellen, but I just couldn't get on board with his actions and was willing him to go to prison or die. And although I felt sympathy for Wavy as she was neglected by her mum, she is immensely irritating. Refuses to talk and runs around like a flipping animal and being horrible and dismissive of everyone - she drove me crazy. I spent a lot of time willing someone to give her a good slap. I didn't particularly like any of the characters except maybe Amy - Wavy's cousin.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lo
  • 11-30-16

Favourite book of the year so far!!

I loved this story because of the discomfort I felt while reading not despite of..

This author gave us a story that is original not only in it's content but in the way it's written as well.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • helen claire smith
  • 12-20-17

heartbreaking, uncomfortable, beautiful

This was an excellent portrayal of an incredible, novel book. It is unusual in subject matter, insightful and moving. The performance was excellent and the narrator captured the characters without feeling fakey.
Stayed with me and was compulsive listening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Cabaspre
  • 12-10-17

Amazing handling of tricky subjects

This was very well narrated. The tale was so beautifully spun that one felt you had to cover your ears but you wanted to peep anyway. A true Romeo and Juliet tale but with a load more difficulty and brutality. Some very tricky subjects in here extremely well handled. This makes one question everything about everything! I can definitely recommend this amazing book and consider it to be one of the best I have read this year.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • sarah
  • 01-28-18

Good story that draws the listener in

What did you like most about All the Ugly and Wonderful Things?

The depth of character that each person had.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It does make you think that there are several sides to the stories that you hear in the news. Nothing is black or white, bad or good, wicked or pure.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Jules
  • 01-09-18

Good But Made For Uncomfortable Listening At Times

Would you listen to All the Ugly and Wonderful Things again? Why?

No, I don't think so because though it kept my interest and the reader was good, I found the plot line too uncomfortable in parts and I probably wouldn't have chosen this book if I'd realised how it was written.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

The story is about a child and a young man who fall in love and their relationship over several years. I would have enjoyed it more if the intimacy between the two had been left more to the imagination. The plot line is largely about how the relationship is viewed from the outside and from the perspective of the two people themselves and the author obviously sets out to push boundaries, but in my opinion he could have done well to appreciate that we have brains and can use our imaginations and that sometimes its better that way. For me in parts he turned what could have been a clever and interesting book into something trashy, which is a shame.

What about Jorjeana Marie’s performance did you like?

I thought Jorjeana ready the book very well, she brought the character of Wavy to life for me, both in her fragility and her strength.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There are some poignant moments in the book, the relationship between the two is gentle and deep and those parts are well written.

Any additional comments?

The narration is very good, the story is good but I think the author went too far in pushing the boundaries in places, he could have been cleverer about it. It's worth listening to but beware that the story does make for uncomfortable listening at times due to the explicit nature of the writing and the fact that the two main characters are a little girl and a man.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jill Forsey
  • 12-29-17

Excellent

True emotion which made you think twice about how you would respond with many of the situations

An excellent book

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • P. Egan-wyer
  • 12-29-17

Superb

A very difficult and sensitive subject really well written about. Dysfunctional people who found each other and never gave up hope of being together!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Katia
  • 11-29-17

Thoughts out loud

Mesmorising story.. so touching and gripping I finished the book in 2 days. Though description of some scenes was a bit rough to my liking however it is indeed a story about the 'ugly and wonderful' things. I couldn't suggest a better title!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • karen
  • 09-26-17

A first for me ...

If you could sum up All the Ugly and Wonderful Things in three words, what would they be?

Opens your mind.

What did you like best about this story?

The unique story and characters. I read a lot but the unorthodox personalities and unpredictable plot were refreshing to me. Definitely thought-provoking.

Which character – as performed by Jorjeana Marie – was your favourite?

Kellen because he has been misunderstood all his life but finally finds someone who 'sees' him.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Life is Ugly yet Wonderful.

Any additional comments?

This is the first audiobook that I've wanted to start re-listening to from the beginning right after l processed the ending of the book. This is excluding the countless of times l had to re-listen to sections of the book because of the power of their words. The narration captured the characters, the scenes and the emotions perfectly. Not an easy feat considering there were a dozen plus POVs! This is not a story for the faint-hearted but trust me the feelings you experience are worth every moment of your time. It's so stimulating to step out of your comfort zone and be challenged to open your mind. Life is never black and white, nor is Love (in fact it is far more than 50 shades).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Tracy
  • 09-10-17

icky. Avoid.

Would you try another book written by Bryn Greenwood or narrated by Jorjeana Marie?

No. The narrator was fine. The writing was fine. The story was really icky. There were many moments that I found really disturbing- not in a good way; not in a clever way. It seemed the author spent a lot of the book justifying sexual grooming and sleeping with minors. Many times I nearly stopped listening all together, but kept going, thinking there would be some resolution at the end. there wasn't. the end was tacky and really really...ick. The groomer got the girl. Society was wrong for misunderstanding their true love. Because, you know, 13 year old's who are under developed physically and (completely, devastatingly, emotionally damaged), are totally able to differentiate between love and sexual gratification. Especially when they are such good cooks and cleaners and know how to take care of their man, and he's like, loved her since he met her when she was 8. yep. nothing dodgy about that (she said with deep cynicism)Don't be fooled. This is not Lolitta. Its like Lolitta without the intellectual barriers, It was impossible for me to get over the whole "sex-with-minors-is-actually-ok-if-you're- in-love" aspect. Would have been embarrassed to have anyone overhear me listening to it. especially when the sex scenes. I'm not sure if the author was trying to be shocking by graphically describing a 13 year old talking about how wet she got, or if he was just getting off on it. Some sideline stories about drug addiction & a fairly limp who dunnit murder. Lots of nasty "trailer park" stereo types (yes, all poor people are drunks/drug addicts who abuse & neglect their children). The more I reflect on it, the more I regret reading it! I almost feel implicated in the ickyness just by having read this book. And it's insidious - you don't realise until you are "hooked" into finding out what happens.It's kind of like, if you were reading a story about world war II, got engaged in the characters and then suddenly realised it was written by a holocaust denier who was peddling their racist xenophobia under the guise of fiction. I realise that, as a reader, I was manipulated to sympathise with a character who, intentionally or not, groomed and manipulated a really vulnerable child into "loving" them, who then encourages a sexual relationship to develop, and the whole message of the book was that that's ok. Yuck. So So So not ok.

Would you ever listen to anything by Bryn Greenwood again?

Nope.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

She could have avoided making the 13 year old sound (and later 21 year old) sound even younger, The voice of Wavy was stuck around the 8 year old age, which made the sexual parts even more horrific to listen to. Was this intentional? If so, why?

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

disgust & the need to go have a good wash

Any additional comments?

maybe I am missing some big picture. I don't think so. I have no idea who the book is aimed at, as the "love story" components are stereotypical chick lit romance, but the sex is middle-aged-man-in-overcoat. I'm really cross that nothing in the blurb indicated what this story was actually about - a man's love affair with a child. Should come with a warning,

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ang
  • 09-07-17

Cannot recommend this enough

Amazing written story and I cried laughed and loved it and lived it all
Wonderful characters and crazy wonderful story line and felt it all and believe it to be an amazing story of love pains and heartache no children should know at such a young age and no parent should be allowed to neglect their child

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Annette
  • 08-23-17

Kept me listening!

Great narration & storyline, even though it was a little different. The book's title is perfect. I really enjoyed it.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Marie Abela
  • 07-23-17

Loved it

Listened to this on some long distance driving and kept driving to keep listening - intense.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Irina
  • 05-29-17

Outstanding

The plot and the uniqueness of the characters made for such a compelling read.
The narrator did an outstanding job. Each character felt alive.
Loved every minute!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jasyl
  • 04-28-17

Wow!

I really enjoyed this book. The performance was also enjoyable. Well written. Couldn't stop listening.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Noel Allenby
  • 01-29-17

compelling and confronting story

this was one of the most unusual books I've read in years, original and really made me think. subject matter was very confronting

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Elise A Hinkley
  • 12-21-16

Interesting

Kept me wanting to read more. Intrigued as to what would happen in Wavey's life next!!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Marci Ya
  • 11-23-16

cringe worthy and heartfelt romance with HEA

At first the narratives fro. different characters threw me off and I didnt think I would like it... I was so wrong. the different narratives help develop the story more. At times I thought I wouldn't be able to get thru parts of the story because of the graffic nature of some parts but I managed and it was soooo worth it.