69 pages 2 hours read

Bryn Greenwood

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2016

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Symbols & Motifs


Content Warning: This section references physical and emotional abuse and drug use, and it centers on a sexualized relationship between an adult and a minor.

Wavy recites the names of stars like a mantra. To go to sleep, to settle herself in chaos, to communicate with Kellen: Wavy uses the names of stars and constellations to connect herself to a wider world, lifting herself out of the chaos and terror of her unpredictable, violent existence. Amy hears her list stars when Wavy will hardly say anything else.

The star motif reappears in Wavy’s other lifeline: her relationship with Kellen. Before Wavy knows Kellen’s name, she notices his belt with its red stones that resemble Orion’s belt. After his wreck, while they wait for help to come, Wavy keeps Kellen from passing out by naming the stars for him until she hears a car coming. Kellen and Wavy later spend hours in the meadow watching the stars. The night they watch the Perseid meteor shower, Wavy puts her hand on Kellen’s belt buckle and says “Orion.” She imitates the sexual act she has seen the Snake Girl engage in with Kellen, combining it with her own place of safety.