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.