One of the top questions on Goodreads for Bryn Greenwood’s 2016 novel All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is: “Is this book going to horrify me?”
Sometimes reading makes you uncomfortable; It’s called experiencing things outside of your immediate comfort zone. It’s called Mark Zuckerberg at his Congress hearing.
Without giving anything away—this book is controversial AF. Personally, I don’t exist in a world of absolutes. I exist in a world of gray areas and nuance, because I am perfect. If you categorically dislike this book without reading it, you can go ahead and continue polishing that bubble, bitch.
The novel is about finding solace and stability amidst abuse. Greenwood gives a voice to people who are doing conventionally “wrong” things for the right reasons. As a reader, you see intent, not just the actions themselves. The book shows some broken people trying to glue each other back together like some terrible macaroni art.
I’m not saying intent entirely justifies action. But when your life is messy, some of the solutions that work for you are not the same solutions that would work for someone with a clean-cut lot. I can read something without condoning it. Re-tweets do not equal endorsement!
Alright, enough about me defending Greenwood’s subject. HER WRITING IS PHENOMENAL. I devoured this book. I haven’t been this engrossed in a book since I read Brain on Fire. She makes a hard-to-believe plot very believable, and she does so very gracefully. She deftly shifts between several narrators, proudly announced at the top of each chapter, which is something I came to value after reading Sing, Unburied, Sing. I highly recommend this book if you can break through your own sense of self and into a well-written world of moral quandary. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things receives 5 out of 5 camel humps.
*Greenwood, Bryn. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2016. Print.