Hello, bibliophiles, and welcome to the middle of the week! Quick disclaimer and update for all of you. I’m so behind on reading, blogging, editing, etc that I almost want to take a break and walk away from it all for awhile. Between working full-time & commuting during the week, and the weekends being filled constantly with a mix of responsibilities and social activities, the only time I have to myself, I’m too tired to commit to pages the way I truly want. It’s beyond frustrating to me and I’m just getting discouraged at this point. It’s rare that I feel connected to the stories I read anymore because I can’t get more than a few chapters at a time with my characters per day. I’m feeling so damn discouraged! I wish there were more hours in a day… and I wish I could find that balance. All I can say for now, is while I can, I’m going to keep going, and if I ever feel I can’t bring effort and a level of quality to my reviews, hauls, cover reveals, excerpts, whatever have you, then I’ll keep you posted. I’ll never walk away from this stuff for good, because I love my books too much. I love discussing them with all of you and sharing that literary love. So, onward and upward to the next review!
The book I’m discussing today is one with mixed reviews because the subject matter is completely taboo. I found that as much as parts of this book made me want to stop, I made myself keep going because I had to know what happened next. No matter how uncomfortable that made me. I’m talking about All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood.
Believe it or not, my biggest pet peeve with this book (I listened to it on Audible) was hearing the narrator quote a character asking a question, and following it up with “so and so said”. For example (and I’m not actually going to quote the text here), “where the Hell have you been?” Kellan said. You know that if you’re asking a question, you wouldn’t say “said”, right? When posing a question, just change “said” to “ask”.. that’s just proper grammar. Anyway, I digress.
I finished this one on my commute home yesterday, and I had to sleep on my thoughts before trying to come up with proper and coherent thoughts. All I can say, is that this is a tough read. Like many reviewers have said in prior reviews, it does deal with a taboo issue, so, approach this one with caution. I didn’t know that until I was a few chapters in. I decided to jump on goodreads to see just what I was getting myself into, and was a bit shocked. However, I had already started on the journey, so I insisted on finishing this story with as little judgment as possible. That’s a near-impossible thing to do with a story like this one. The best I could do was play devil’s advocate.
By definition, Kellan isn’t a pedophile. He doesn’t have interest or a history of falling in love, or being attracted to little girls. This was just an individual case of…. something unique. To put it mildly. Wavy Quinn is growing up with drug-addicted parents, and doesn’t have anyone caring for her. Her aunt and her grandmother had tried, but she wound up back home with her father and mother, who were too busy cooking meth, doing drug deals, or staying in bed, that she found herself alone and looking after her little brother. It’s when Kellan (her dad’s friend) wrecks his motorcycle outside of their house, that she finds someone who cares about her.
Kellan, for most of this story, is a father figure more than anything. He’s in his early to mid-twenties when Wavy is still in elementary school. He buys her clothes, shoes, groceries, pays her school fees, and gives her rides back and forth every day. He becomes her protector. It’s when Wavy is around 11 or 12, that she tells friends and family Kellan is her boyfriend. What he tries to brush off as a child with a crush, suddenly becomes its own monster.
I’m sure my next thoughts will be taken with a bit of disdain, but let me try to explain my thought process here.
Don’t get me wrong. Parts of this book definitely made me uncomfortable. It’s not an easy read by any means. The only way I found myself accepting of their relationship (when it does blossom into something much more around the time Wavy is 14) was to tell myself that a big age gap in couples has become sort of a norm in our society. Looking at some celebrities who are married to or dating someone so far from their own age, and we just kind of think, “huh, that’s a bit weird..” and move on with our lives (examples: Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin. He’s twelve years older. Charlize Theron and Sean Penn. Fifteen year difference. Bennett Miller and Ashley Olsen. A nineteen year age gap… etc). Obviously, I’m not saying it’s normal to be in a relationship with an under age child, I’m not condoning that at all, but when things transitioned for Wavy and Kellan down the line, and Wavy was suddenly twenty-one, I didn’t see it as an issue at all. I saw it as two consenting adults who cared for one another. I hope that makes sense.
Regardless, this was a tough, but worthwhile read. It was heartbreaking how the story unfolded, and made me sad for a group of such unfortunate people, but it was good to know that there was an element of love at the core of the story, no matter what kind of love it was. It was unsettling, but profound by time all was said and done, and I’m glad I stuck with it.