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Throwback Thursday: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

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“I liked learning things. How numbers worked together to explain the stars. How molecules made the world. All the ugly and wonderful things people had done in the last two thousand years.” 

“Most days I was impossible. Like a unicorn.” 

“You can look up keening in the dictionary, but you don’t know what it means until you hear somebody having their heart ripped out.” 

“Your family is real, but mine isn’t? Real people with real feelings, but my family isn’t real to you. You think. I’m a character. A story. Those women you talk about. Not real people to you. Stupid women. I’m real. I’m as real as you are. My family is real like your family.” 

“Sometimes waiting and being disappointed was good, to remind me he didn’t belong to me. Nothing belonged to me.” 

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 star gazing 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.

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