Thursday, January 29, 2015
REVIEW: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
I read All the Bright Places in a single day. I finished it late at night, cried myself to sleep afterwards and in the morning when I woke up, I was still thinking about it. That's the type of story this book is.
All the Bright Places is a dual perspective story with two main characters, Theodore Finch and Violet Markey. It starts with both Finch and Violet who have come to the school's bell tower with the intention of jumping. Violet is still grieving the death of her sister in a car accident within the past year and Finch is kind of a strange boy who is fascinated with death and is constantly thinking of ways to commit suicide but never goes through with it because he always finds a way to distract himself in the moment.
At the top of this bell tower, Finch manages to convince Violet not to jump. And this is the start of their tenuous friendship. Finch manages to partner with Violet on a geography project to discover the 'wonders' of their home-state. Together, they find in each other what they most need - someone to whom they can be themselves and talk and find reasons to live each day and to be thankful for all the small wonders around them.
Man, I loved this book. I really loved Theodore Finch. I thought he was a brilliant character, someone very full of life and incredibly interesting. It was quite sad to read of his family and of his background and it's easy to see why he's so consumed with death and committing suicide. But he really comes to life around Violet and together they are utterly adorable. I loved how their relationship transforms from reluctant project partners into friends and then into more. And Violet's story is equally as interesting. Her grief and guilt over her sister's death is palpable within these pages but her relationship amongst her family is entirely different from that of Finch's and you can see that once she asks for it, help and support are at hand.
I thought this book was really sad and beautiful at the same time. It's a wonderful look at loss and grief, about life and death and depression and friendship and love. But it also has a very sad but important message about the dangers that surround the stigma of mental illness. Incredible book. One that I highly recommend.