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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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Average Customer Ratings

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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.

70 of 73 people found this review helpful

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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.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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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.

46 of 52 people found this review helpful

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Difficult to see the wonderful among the ugly

Would you try another book from Bryn Greenwood and/or Jorjeana Marie?

Probably not-

What was most disappointing about Bryn Greenwood’s story?

It was a tragic love story, but since I have a 14-year old daughter, I could not help but to identify with the aunt's perspective.

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

It was disturbing to me; glad others enjoyed it but I did not.

Any additional comments?

I have listened to many, many audible books and this is my first review. I do not see much wonderful in this sad, disturbing story. I almost wish I hadn't read it! But i know I'm in the minority. Maybe not for women with teenage daughters!

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

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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!

46 of 56 people found this review helpful

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  • Narelle
  • Narrabundah, Australia
  • 12-29-16

Very strange -odd

I was very uncomfortable with this book. 13 year old girl in love with a biker and describing her sexual feelings - the biker also in love with her?? Basically paedophilia.

19 of 24 people found this review helpful

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A brave departure from the norm

The story line is a refreshing change from assembly line romance tales. The main protagonists are damaged and unglamorous. Some readers might even find the gradual development of their relationship disturbing due to the age gap and the squalor of their surroundings, yet the author persuades us that something of beauty can still grow in the ugliest of circumstances. There is neither a handsome Prince nor sexually skilled billionaire to fuel a reader's girlish daydreams here. Instead a random act of kindness to a child generates a feeling of responsibility which, over a period of years, develops into an attraction destined to raise concerns. This was not an easy subject to tackle and I applaud the author for taking us in a new direction. I look forward to more books from this source.

26 of 33 people found this review helpful

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What's with all the hype?

I didn't like it at all. Yes, it has broken people finding that one person that makes them feel safe. But, the characters and storyline just didn't do it for me. Barely finished.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Disgusting

It should have been called all the Ugly and Ugly things. No amount of "love" can make this story acceptable. I'm sorry that I listened to it. The only positive thing I can say about this book is that the performers were excellent.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Nope

This book was incredibly boring and hard to slog through, and I almost gave up a few times, but when their relationship started getting sexual, it was definitely over for me. I know the writing is beautiful and the characters are realistic and well-written, but The plot builds like molasses and is incredibly depressing. Not worth my time.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • 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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kate369
  • 07-12-17

Weird and wonderful.

I have been consumed by this book from the get go. I liked the way the story was moved along by the different characters.

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  • 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.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-18-17

Couldn't stop listening

Having read the reviews for this book I was full of anticipation and wasn't disappointed. The author deals with difficult social issues sensitively when from the child's perspective. A firm favourite with strong lead characters that are both gritty and endearing.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-25-17

Simply Stunning

One of my favourite reads of the year! Exceptional plotting, characterisation and beautifully written. A must read. Five easy stars.

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  • P. Flowers
  • 03-21-17

I was scared to read this book but

It is wonderful! This is a brilliant story about love and hard lives. I would urge anyone to take the plunge and discover the depths inside.

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  • Anastasiya
  • 02-24-17

Great controversial book

Would you consider the audio edition of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things to be better than the print version?

narration was great, kept me at the edge of my seat

What was one of the most memorable moments of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things?

Wavy's selfless love to Kellen

Any additional comments?

this is great book, it wasn't something i have expected to be honest. its very controversial, and possibly depending on your opinion it can make or break this book for you.
it also opens up your eyes to the other side of what might seam to be very Wrong.

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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).

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  • 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,

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  • 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

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  • 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.

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  • Marie Abela
  • 07-23-17

Loved it

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

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  • 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!

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  • Jasyl
  • 04-28-17

Wow!

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

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  • 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

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  • Elise A Hinkley
  • 12-21-16

Interesting

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

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  • 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.

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