The adult version of Tabitha Suzuma's Forbidden, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things details the love story of eight-year-old Wavy Quinn and one of heThe adult version of Tabitha Suzuma's Forbidden, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things details the love story of eight-year-old Wavy Quinn and one of her father's thugs, Kellen. Their bond develops out of a shared suffering and compassion: Wavy's father operates a meth lab, an enterprise that has robbed Wavy of a typical childhood, similar to how Kellen grew up in a broken family and had to fend for himself. As Wavy matures, so does her relationship with Kellen. And even though they both know their love serves as the most true and pure part of their lives, so many of the people around them will do anything to tear them apart.
I loved Wavy's character in All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. Greenwood crafts her not as a nymph, not as a child prodigy, but as an individual person who has survived great hardship with much resilience. Her relationship with Kellen defies categorization as well. Greenwood does a great job in guiding us to see the merits of their relationship without manipulating us through overt melodrama or heavy-handedness. Throughout the book, I rooted for Wavy and Kellen's bond, not because of its taboo nature, but because they brought each other compassion and caring in a world so full of bleakness and tragedy.
I give this book four stars instead of five because I did not find its middle or end as compelling as its beginning. At the start of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, Greenwood introduces us to the complexity of Wavy's life and her family with lyrical, precise prose. By the middle of the book, the focus of the story shifted so much to Wavy and Kellen's relationship that all the other aspects of Wavy's life faded to the background. For the first 150 or so pages, the development of their connection felt organic, rising from an inherent attraction and factors that propelled them toward one another. After that, Greenwood honed in on just their relationship, and while I can see how that might appeal to other readers, I wanted to read more about the nuances of Wavy's family than the persistent lust between Wavy and Kellen.
Overall, a riveting novel I would recommend to those who enjoy well-written romance that pushes boundaries. I most liked reading about Wavy's character and her insights ((view spoiler)[that courtroom scene at the end resonated with me so deeply, it was fantastic (hide spoiler)]), though I can see how her relationship with Kellen will draw readers in. This book has gotten quite the hype parade from some of Goodreads' most popular reviewers, so I am curious to read about what others will think of it as well as what Greenwood will write in the future....more
I agree with the central message of this short story, I just found its delivery boring. Yes, perpetual suburbia and unfulfilling wealth and meaninglesI agree with the central message of this short story, I just found its delivery boring. Yes, perpetual suburbia and unfulfilling wealth and meaningless pleasantries can take a toll on one's health. John Cheever portrays the dullness of Neddy Merrill's life as he swims throughout the story. But, by doing so with no change of pace, Cheever makes his own story dull, delivering a solid piece of symbolism and a lackluster work of writing. Another story that satisfies the mind but fails to reach the heart. ...more
A compelling, compassionate memoir about Garrard Conley's struggle with his homosexuality while growing up in an ultra-religious town and fam4.5 stars
A compelling, compassionate memoir about Garrard Conley's struggle with his homosexuality while growing up in an ultra-religious town and family. He writes about undergoing ex-gay conversion therapy, disappointing his father - a Baptist pastor - and his church as a whole, and using writing itself to cope with his emotional wounds. Though he tells his story in a consistent personal narrative style, Conley connects his journey to the pain that many LGBTQ youth endure when raised in intolerant, oftentimes religious communities.
I loved the love Conley shows in Boy Erased. So many people treated him with hate and homophobia as he grew up, and instead of stooping to their level, he humanizes them and treats them as three-dimensional characters. He seeks to understand without minimizing his own pain; with unflinching candor, he shares the shame and doubt he felt, emotions instilled by the bigoted people around him. Conley's kindness shines most when he details his relationships with his parents. Their family's love for one another, while tested and complicated by homophobia, never gets broken.
Overall, recommended to anyone interested in the intersections of LGBTQ identity, religion, and personal narrative. Conley's writing, while lyrical and eloquent, never romanticizes the suffering he and so many others have faced. As a nonreligious person, I gained a deeper empathy for LGBTQ individuals who grow up in religious households and communities, as well as for those who raise them. A bittersweet feeling struck me so many times while reading Boy Erased, a combination of sadness for all the potential romantic relationships ruined by internalized homophobia, as well as hope that books like this one can help people accept themselves more fully. I am grateful Garrard Conley had the courage to write and to publish it....more
A startling and visceral debut, Shelter will resonate with anyone who has felt the pain of family trauma. The story focuses on Kyung Cho, a young fathA startling and visceral debut, Shelter will resonate with anyone who has felt the pain of family trauma. The story focuses on Kyung Cho, a young father who finds himself deep in debt. Though he has a good job at the local university, he and his wife have spent way above their means, placing them and their young son in a precarious position. Kyung refuses to ask for help from his parents, Mae and Jin, who live just a few miles away in a wealthy neighborhood. In his childhood, they treated Kyung with coldness and cruelty, so he owes them nothing now. But when a horrifying act of violence forces Mae and Jin to live with Kyung and his family, the Chos must confront the collective trauma they thought they had left behind.
Jung Yun does a fantastic job writing about pain. Pain resides in every page of this book: the pain Kyung experienced as a child and how it still affects him, the pain of the brutal trauma his parents just went through in their luxury home, the pain of fighting and clawing to make it in the United States as an Asian American. Yun examines her characters' suffering with depth and complexity, never sensationalizing their struggles even when they get grotesque. She imbues Kyung, his parents, and all the other characters with complexity, drawing us in to better understand their backgrounds and motivations.
I most loved how Yun gives us jagged visions of hope throughout the book. Shelter contains no easy solutions; the pain inflicted by and to the Cho family goes way too deep for any type of quick fix. Still, Yun raises ideas that we can use to better our own lives - questions about what it means to parent and to love, about how we can tackle racism and other issues of social justice instead of letting them tackle us. She gives us a lot to ponder about the Cho family and their circumstances even after the novel's conclusion.
As a second generation Asian American and as someone who has faced his own traumas, I felt that Shelter spoke to me and my upbringing in an authentic way, despite some of the dissimilarities between my life and those of the characters. I cannot wait to see what Jung Yun writes next, and I would recommend Shelter to fans of family drama, realistic fiction, and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. ...more