Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is a new young-adult novel about mental illnesses, family, love, and surviving in the aftermath of great emotional trauma.  Recommended for fans of Rainbow Rowell, John Green, and Gayle Forman, All the Bright Places is sure to pull at your heart strings. Soon to be a major-motion picture starring Elle Fanning!

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

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.

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I don’t know how it is possible to love a book that I am so incredibly mad at, but it has happened.  This is a book that will most-likely make you as angry as it made me, and probably very sad.   This is a book that will stay with you for a very long time if you have ever had suicidal thoughts, or experienced the loss of someone who has taken their own life.  

Meet Violet.  Brilliant.  Beautiful.  Damaged.  Less than a year ago, she was in a fatal car accident; her older sister, Eleanor, was killed.  Violet wants nothing more than to leave small-town Indiana for college and get on with her life.

Meet Finch.  Brilliant.  Bat-shit crazy, with a family history of domestic abuse.  Suicidal.  Known as “Freak” at school.  He meets Violet one day at school on the bell tower, and talks her off the ledge.  Over the course of the school year, they become friends and eventually more.  Yes, another damaged girl + damaged boy love story, but one that is incredibly well-written and relatable.  

The novel is told in the dual perspectives of Finch and Violet, concentrating slightly more on Finch, a 17 year old boy with what seems to be a death wish.  It is clear that Finch has an undiagnosed mental illness, and desperately needs help, but his family merely accepts him the way he is.

Finch is a complex character that is both lovable and infuriating.  And let’s be honest:  a little annoying.  His actions throughout the novel are selfish at times, and heroic at others.   Part of me hates him, while another part of me understands him at his core.  

I will not say much about the ending, except that it is tragic yet beautiful; haunting, yet inspiring, and will not be forgotten easily.

Folks, if you or someone you know someone is suffering from a mental illness and may be suicidal, please get them help.  And if you are suicidal, please think about the people you will most assuredly leave behind with guilt, regret, and questions that will forever be unanswered before you choose to end your life.    
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1 (800) 273-8255

Publication Date: January 6, 2015


  1. Tragic and beautiful endings usually mean a not so happy ending. Still, I'm anxious and fearful of this book.


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