All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

imageAs the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible “adult” around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father’s thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer. 

Let me start off by saying that this book is brutal, heart wrenching, disturbing and a testament to love.

When I started reading it and go to the part where Wavy met Kellen I had a line from a Pink Flyod song in my head ” we’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year”  Wavy and Kellen are two lost and lonely people who find solace and peace with each other. The only problem is that Wavy is 8 and Kellen is about 20-22 or so when they meet.  Her parents are brutal, her father wants nothing to do with her. He is a drug dealer who has 3 women on the side and her mother is a meth addict who bounces between “good mama” and “scary mama.”   Kellen takes care of her, takes her to school, is there for her at all times and he loves her.  It’s a pure innocent love, one that is built on friendship and mutual need. Life is devastatingly hard for Wavy and her brother but in all that goes on they keep their humanity intact with the help of Kellen

As Wavy gets older things change. Wavy changes into a young teenager who was brought up around women who talked about sex and showed her what to do in order to attract Kellen in a way that is not innocent anymore.  As they explore each other, Kellen doesn’t let things get out of hand, knowing that she is young and knows that it’s wrong, even if he wants more from her. A huge life changing event happens and things explode around them and their lives are torn to shreds.  You will have part of you screaming for Wavy to get a life away from Kellen but part of you wants them to be happy.  Is it creepy, yes, but it’s just so hard to sit back and judge what is happening.

This book is hard to read. Take your morals and put them aside when reading this, things are different,uncomfortable, hard, and  brutal at times.  My heart broke quite a few times reading it. The writing is incredible, no punches are pulled from the violence and darkness that is shown, not only in this book, but also what happens in real life.  It’s graphic in parts and disturbing. I had to put it down at times to absorb what I just read and to take a deep breath before being able to start reading it again. At the end my heart was bruised, but intact.  You will feel every range of emotions reading this.  I won’t forget this book for a long, long time to come.

In all the hardship and difficult times Wavy and Kellen’s love get them through it all.  At the end of it all this book is about love.

Crash

ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5/5 stars

 

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The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany Mc Daniel

imageFielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.

Sal seems to appear out of nowhere – a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he’s welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he’s a runaway from a nearby farm town.

When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperatures as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestles with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.

 

This book is about fear of the unknown, racism, loss of faith, domestic violence, religion and morality.  So many themes run through this story that it looks like it may overwhelm what is going on but it doesn’t.  This was the time that AIDS was just rearing its ugly head, life was different and but not people in general.  This was so well written, so beautifully done, it makes it hard to put into words how I feel about it.   You get caught up in the plot, lose yourself in the story and feel as if you are part of it in a way.  I have to admit I did shed a tear at the end of it, the emotions over came me and I’m not afraid to admit this.

It made you take a look at just how cruel people are, it crawls into you and takes hold, forcing you to look at not only yourself and how you would act, but at others as well.

“It got me thinking about the things we are so certain about.  Like the Devil. I put that invitation in the newspaper, and I thought that the devil with show and he will have a pitchfork and horns and be red all over.  He’ll be mean and cruel and evil.  I was so certain of that, and when you came, Sal. Not with a pitchfork but with a heart”

Sal was, in many ways, the perceived villain in this book.  So much hatred towards the boy who claimed  he was the devil, a 13-year-old black boy with eyes so green that they look unearthly. Some of the dialog  that Sal delivers are deep and philosophical it makes you question if he indeed the devil or an angel. As people turned against him, they showed their ugly side and in a lot of ways showed that the devil resides in all of us.  He turned out to be calm and voice of reason in a community that was breaking down due to their fears and anxieties.

“Pain is our most intimate encounter.  It lives on the very inside of us, touching everything that makes us.  It claims your bones, it masters your muscles, it reels in your strength, and you never see it again.  The artistry of pain it its contact.”

The characters were flawed, oh so human in their pain, anger and sorrow.  It was beautiful and dark, deep and intense.  At the end of it, no words can describe the impact this book had on me.

Crash

5/5 stars

ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

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All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

imageIn the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.

As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town – or perhaps lives among them – drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.

 

The rape scenes are disturbing and might be a trigger issue for some people so be warned.  I enjoyed the fact that the story is told from the point of the view of the therapist, it made for more of a different dynamic to the storyline.   It tells  a story of a family falling apart not only because of the rape of their daughter but of secrets that have been kept by many of the characters.

I suffered a car accident the night of my senior prom and the car went head on into a phone pole.  I remember being dragged out of the car and bits and pieces of that night, even 30 years on I still can’t fully remember what happened before at the prom or after the accident and have suffered from memory problems since.  I can understand the dynamic of losing  memories from an event, even though for the sake of the story it is memory repression from the use of drugs to ease the trauma and lessen PTSD.  I found it interesting to try to use regression to unlock the memories.  I did find the therapist a bit odd and creepy at times and it took a few pages to realise that Jenny wasn’t the one telling the story.

There are a lot of characters thrown in that at first don’t seem to fit what is going on in the main story line but it does sort itself out and slowly starts to make sense.  What didn’t help in the least was that the narration was disjointed and made it hard to follow at times.

I am going to be honest, I am not sure how I feel about this book. In places it was a bit long winded and I found myself getting bored. The plot line is great, the execution, not as much.  If  the story line flowed a bit more it would have been a better read.  I don’t know if the writer was trying to convey how someone would sort things out in their own head and that is how it was told but again, a bit too disjointed.  All in all it’s not a bad book, the ending was a good, but the jumping around got to me.

Crash

3.5 stars.

 

ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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