Sassy, No Spoilers: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

book of the month selection, book reviews, contemporary, fiction

Y’all ever just start reading a book that you’re not REAL sure about, because so many people have some really strong feelings about it? Some say it’s their favorite book of the year, others say it’s offensive trash. I love books that spark a hot debate from all sides, because that tells me the author did something right.

Also, if someone says a book is “offensive trash,” guess what? My inner John-Waters-loving-self is going to see what’s going on.

The thing about this book that rubs people the wrong way, is that it’s a coming-of-age love story between a man and a young woman. Well, she starts out as a young girl, growing up in a world of abuse with her meth-lab family. See how that could get offensive, real quick? Yeah.

So, I didn’t think All the Ugly and Wonderful Things was offensive, much in the same way that I am not appalled by Lolita. I see them both as very ugly stories that aren’t ugly at the core, but that can be easily seen that way (can we say, judging a book by its cover? I think we can!). The beautiful things about this story are its two main characters, Wavy and Kellen; they are written in such a way that you instantly see the connection between them, and the whole point of this book (I think) is that it shows what the power of characterization can do. It can make you pull for the bad guy (Breaking Bad, anyone?), and REALLY question your own morals. At the end if this book, you can’t deny that you’re weirdly pulling for these two crazy kids to just work it out.

But that’s what’s so great about this book! The backdrop is unique in this book, and the ugliness of it only makes it that much more beautiful. I found myself cheering for Wavy and Kellen, and marveling over the brilliant way Greenwood built their world.

This book isn’t for everyone, sure, but I would recommend it to:

  • People who actually enjoyed Lolita as literature (I know I’m not the only one)
  • Anyone who loves a book with amazing character building
  • Those interested in questioning their very moral center and reading “uncomfortable” stories
  • People who enjoy reading books that create debates

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Sassy, No Spoilers: My Best Friend’s Exorcism

book reviews

Demons, cults, and teenage angst in the 80’s? Yes, please.

Deep in the throngs of editing my cult-based thriller, I decided to pick up books that might lend a helping hand in keeping things ~spooky~ but ~not too spooky~ because I like to sleep with the lights off and not thinking about what might be lurking in the closet (not that there’s much room in there for ghosts, I have a lot of craft supplies in there, sorry, Casper).

I first noticed My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix at my library. I work in a public library; I scan a lot of books every day. I scanned a copy of this one in a transit bin, and instantly gasped, called my coworker over, and Oo’d and Ahh’d, because it has the. Coolest. Cover. I have ever seen. I didn’t check out the book, because it had a hold on it elsewhere (and I wouldn’t cheat y’all like that, library folk do follow rules). And as a rule of thumb, if I think I will like a book, I buy it. (Support! Authors! And! Bookshops!)

*pencil pouch, legwarmers, and holy water not included

The author of this book isn’t a novice, but he’s just landed himself a lot of (deserved) attention with The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, Which is sitting in my TBR pile glaring at me as I type this. He also wrote a satirical take on a haunted version of IKEA. I love finding authors that take horror and smash it against humor (True Blood, anyone?), and that’s exactly what Hendrix accomplishes with MBFE.

To stay true to my name, I won’t spoil anything about this book. But I will say, it’s about two best friends in the 80’s who stand by each other…no matter what. What would you do if your best friend suddenly started acting like a total demon? Typical teenagers, amiright? This book is a wild ride through all things nostalgia, exorcists that are super swole for Jesus, and the limitless things we do for best friends.

Judge this book by the cover, I give you library-lady permission, and I also guarantee the song-lyrics-as-chapter-titles will have you jamming John Hughes movie soundtracks for weeks afterwards.

Read this book if you enjoy:

  • E.T. references
  • Stranger Things
  • The entire wild ride that was the True Blood series by Charlaine Harris
  • 80s nostalgia
  • Stories about insanely strong friendships

Also, if you were traumatized by The Exorcist as a child like I was, then this book will make you feel a lot better about it. Legwarmers are optional.

Rating: 4 out of 5.