All The Ugly And Beautiful Things

Can things we once thought were ugly be beautiful? Are beautiful things sometimes ugly?

I have a feeling this book is going to stick with me for awhile. It’s the type of story that makes you question your preconceived notions about rules, love, law and relationships. It makes you question the things that society thinks are taboo, for better or worse.


Wavy is a young girl when she meets Kellen. He is the motorcycle riding henchman of Wavy’s father Liam, a meth producer and drug dealer. Wavy’s mother Val spends most of her time in bed coming down or high on drugs. Wavy feels responsible for her young brother Donal, changing his diapers, feeding him, even getting her grandmother’s cookbooks out to make dinner.

Kellen crashes his motorcycle near Wavy’s home, and she rushes to take care of him, as is her nature. Once Kellen gets an eye for Wavy’s living situation and the home’s conditions, he begins to take care of her and Donal in a way her parents (and their cast of characters) never could. He buys the groceries on the lists Wavy makes, he drives her to school and back on his motorcycle, he makes sure she has shoes on her feet.

Wavy doesn’t speak often, nor will she eat in front of people. Because of her upbringing, she’s prone to steal food at night and only say sporadic words. With Kellen around, she opens up, speaks more, and slowly, fall in love. What do we do with this…a young girl falling in love with a 20-something year old man? We hold on, cross our fingers, and hope this situation doesn’t get out of hand.

But it does as Wavy gets older, but not in the way you’d expect. A tragedy occurs on Wavy’s 14th birthday, and the aftermath of it destroys Kellen, Wavy, and Donal. Throw in a meddling aunt, and everyone’s lives are forced down a road none of them want.

The story is told through multiple characters…from when Wavy is 5 until she is 21, when Wavy is in college to be an astrophysicist. This book had me perpetually on the edge…I didn’t want Kellen to take advantage of young Wavy, I didn’t want Wavy to fall into the daughter-of-a-drug-dealer trope. I’m still not sure if these things (and more) did or did not happen.

Very quick read. Great debut novel.