Ugly to Start With is a collection of short stories that describe Jason's life growing up in 1970s small town West Virginia. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. With a title like Ugly to Start With I expect some kind of bizarre semi-realistic romp through childhood. What I got was a well thought-through string of stories that all highlighted a little part of Jason's personality. They were all very well-written and polished. There were no loose ends or stories that I didn't understand the meaning of, which is quite an accomplishment in this genre. A LOT is wrong in Jason's life, from his highly dysfunctional family to the racism that raged through the States and everything in between. Yet Ugly to Start With is a hopeful book that shines in some passages. It was nice to see that meaningful books don't have to be depressing but can be enjoyable to read.I liked reading about all the different characters that make up the little town of Harpers Ferry, all strange in their own way. At moments I was disappointed that the story ended so quickly, I wanted to know what would happen next. Ugly to Start With is a great little book, and I would love to read something from Mr Cummings again.