Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven. (via Goodreads)
All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven was a book that I picked up because I liked the cover. I didn’t know anything about the book before I started reading it, had I known what the subject matter was, I probably would have waited until I was in a better place to read it.
I enjoyed the writing, and the characters were interesting, but I think that I need to put a spoiler alert/trigger warning here before I go into the rest of my review.
This book deals with two characters who are both deeply entrenched in their depression, and begins with both of them debating suicide on the roof of their school. It ends with one of them actually committing suicide. If that’s something that will bother you, I really think that this is not a good choice for you to read.
My main complaint about this novel was that Finch & Violet’s mental illnesses were more fleshed out than any of their other personality markers. As someone who has depression, I understand that it can be all-consuming, but it didn’t need to be the only part of their personality that really worked.
I thought that All the Bright Places handled the reactions fairly well, too, especially with Violet’s parents. A lot of judgement gets pushed onto the loved ones of suicide victims for not knowing, or not being able to stop it. I thought it was honest to include their thoughts, since that’s something that really does happen in real life, unfortunately.
I thought it was realistic that their problems were misunderstood by their parents, and to an extent by the school counselors, but I also feel like Finch’s mom (or a school official) really should have noticed him disappearing for months at a time, even with his sisters’ help covering it up. There should have been at least one in-person parent-teacher conference that Finch’s mom would have been clued in onto the issues. It really shouldn’t have been normal that Finch disappears sometimes.
One thing I loved about this novel was the addition of the hotlines for help at the end of the book. I think that was the best choice Niven could have made for the end of All the Bright Places.
I found out after I read it that it has been optioned for a movie directed by Miguel Arteta, and starring Elle Fanning. Niven announced on twitter in July that she is writing the screenplay herself, so if you liked the novel, definitely check out the movie! It’s due to come out in 2017, according to IMDB.
Time Magazine chose All the Bright Places as number 3 for their Top 10 YA & Children’s Books of 2015 list. I think this book would be a good choice for readers who enjoyed John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, or Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, or enjoy Sarah Dessen’s writing.
All the Bright Places was a good novel, but I thought it could have been better, in the ways that I mentioned. I really enjoyed it, though, so, I’m rating it four stars.