"All the Ugly and Wonderful Things" (Thomas Dunne Books), by Bryn Greenwood
Wavy's dad cooks meth in the trailers down the road from their house. Her mother stays home and alternates between swallowing pills, sleeping and threatening her daughter to keep her mouth closed, which is why Wavy refuses to talk and never eats in front of others.
On Wavy's 8th birthday (or so she guesses, as there are no recent calendars at her disposal), a biker crashes on the road outside her house. That's how she meets and falls in love with Kellen, a mechanic sometimes employed by her father. Thus begins Bryn Greenwood's "All the Ugly and Wonderful Things," a tangled love story between a growing girl and a man struggling to balance a life littered with crime and his desire to care for a neglected child who saved his life.
Chaos abounds. Wavy raises her baby brother and Kellen runs drugs for Wavy's dad. Family members slip in and out of the picture along with a cast of junkies.
Events unfold from varying points of view. We hear from Wavy's cousin who adores her, an aunt on the verge of a breakdown who finds support from her book club, and even Wavy's dad's mistresses. The changing viewpoints add texture to an already riveting story; however, Wavy and Kellen tell a bulk of what happens in their own words, providing an anchor for readers.
Captivating and smartly written from the first page, Greenwood's work is instantly absorbing. Pithy characters saunter, charge or stumble into each scene via raw, gripping narrative. Greenwood slow-drips descriptions, never giving away everything at once. Rather, she tells her story as if lifting a cloth thread by thread, revealing heartbreaking landscapes and riveting dialogue in perfect timing.
This book won't pull at heartstrings but instead yank out the entire organ and shake it about before lodging it back in an unfamiliar position.