(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Published by Random House Children's Books on January 6th 2015
Genres: Death & Dying, Depression & Mental Illness, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
"A do not miss for fans of Eleanor and Park and The Fault in Our Stars, and basically anyone who can breathe."--Justine MagazineA New York Times bestsellerSoon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning! 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 Gayle Forman, Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.“At the heart—a big one—of “All the Bright Places” lies a charming love story about this unlikely and endearing pair of broken teenagers.” — New York Times Book Review “…this heartbreaking love story about two funny, fragile, and wildly damaged high school kids named Violet and Finch is worth reading. Niven is a skillful storyteller who never patronizes her characters—or her audience.”— Entertainment Weekly From the Hardcover edition.
This is not the typical book that I find myself reading… nope, it surely isn’t. For one, it deals with some pretty heavy topics. Teen Suicide, Depression, Death… they’re all in here. For two… it’s not the usual HEA that I tend to go for.
To be completely honest with you, I’m not really sure I can write a review that will do this book justice. What I will tell you is that this book touched me in a way that not many have. Did I cry? Yes… but even more than that, it really made me think about so much and for that alone I have an amazing appreciation for this book.
This is a story about love, and falling in love. It’s about life and living it to the fullest and it’s about the struggles many of us face while doing just that. It’s also about accepting what fate has handed you and moving forward.
Finch… this boy… this charismatic, sweet, beautiful boy has the game down…he recognizes that something is wrong, he knows he doesn’t feel right and hasn’t for a while… and yet he knows what to say and do and how to act to hide what is eating away at him on the inside. *ugh* just thinking about it right now is making me tear up. What we learn about Finch in this story is that he is more than the labels that are assigned to him by his classmates, by his teachers, by his friends, and by his family. What we also learn is that the people he was supposed to be able to count on to help him… never did and maybe they never could.
And Violet is stuck in a world where she blames herself for things that she couldn’t have possibly controlled. Having survived a car crash that killed her sister she feels responsible and no one has told her otherwise, in fact her parents have stopped talking about Eleanor and don’t realize how sad Violet actually is.
Which leads to how these two finally meet… on a ledge at school of all places. Initially I never expected the connection to last. Violet is distant and closed off, but Finch pushes through the walls and forces her to participate in everything “extenuating circumstances” or not.
A project has these two “wandering” the state of Indiana and learning and experiencing things they would never have thought to look for… and along the way, they find comfort in each other. Yet, while Finch is bound and determined to show Violet all the positives in life and living, he struggles with making those same connections for himself.
There is a love story here… the summary even tells you, and it was so beautiful to see the way Finch just let himself fall for Violet, head over heels, and the way Niven writes it just makes it the best.
What I can say about the story is this. It’s beautifully written and paced. The story flows naturally and at no time did it lag for me. I was completely entranced with the ebb and flow of Finch and Violet’s relationship and the build up to that first kiss is phenomenal … just as every moment after was as well. The relationships were so well done… I’m not talking just between Violet and Finch, even though that is what the bulk of this story is, but also between Violet and her family and even the relationships with her friends. Being able to watch this girl who is counting down the days to her escape from high school and all the memories she’s bombarded with daily, start to welcome the changes that life has dealt her and realize that all those memories don’t have to be buried in sadness was just lovely. But on the other end of that, watching this bright, vibrant boy being taken over by his demons was incredibly hard to read. But necessary, because real life isn’t always rainbows and unicorns.
This story is one that no matter how sad it might be, deserves to be told. And while it isn’t a typical HEA, it’s definitely a hopeful ending, one that will hopefully have people realizing that there is a deeper story here, we aren’t always just the things we’re labeled as and depression isn’t just something that will dissipate with time. Mental illness is a real and complicated thing and while people may feel helpless, there is hope.
This book will definitely have a special place on my favorites shelf… even though I’m not sure I’ll be able to read it again for a while!