Review: All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Review: All The Bright Places by Jennifer NivenAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Published by Knopf on January 6th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 378
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three-half-stars

 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. 

Review:

Just a note: I haven’t read The Fault in Our Stars or Eleanor and Park yet, so this book to me was pretty refreshing in the sense that I don’t read a lot of books that focus on those tougher/ heavy issues in life. This is a book about mental illness, and dealing with grief. It makes me happy that books like these are becoming more mainstream, because mental illness and people living with it are often extremely stigmatized and hushed up (as demonstrated in the book), but now we’re getting the opportunity to discuss it more openly and that’s the best way to learn.

I met her on the bell tower when we were both thinking about jumping. We could have held hands and leaped off together. They would have thought we were star-crossed lovers. They’d write songs about us. We’d be legends.

The story is about Finch and Violet. They meet on a bell tower. They’re total opposites, she’s the popular girl, he’s the freak. But they’re both struggling and manage to find some solace in each other’s company. In a way it’s predictable that it purposely brings out the emotions – of hopefulness, happiness, sadness, regret, confusion, anger. (Kind of spoiler! But when everyone describes the book as heart-wrenching you know sad stuff is going to happen:) My only big complaint is tragedy for the sake of tragedy just makes me arg. In reality, I know real life isn’t always happily ever after, but that’s why I read fiction… That being said – it’s terribly sad to read a book like this and see that moment where if maybe they had the help they need, it could have all turned out differently.

The book is from both POVs, as Finch counts the days he’s alive since his suicide attempt, and as Violet counts down the days until school is over. Finch was an extremely interesting character for me, with his ever changing personality, his highs and lows, and the way he lives his life with his mental illness. Violet, on the other hand, is learning to deal with grief and guilt after the loss of her sister; I liked her, but found her a bit lacking as a fully-fleshed out character. They’re relationship – how they built it, how they interacted, how they influenced each other – played a huge role in the story and really hits you in the gut. It was realist, and heartwarming and heart-wrenching all at the same time.

Overall, it’s not necessarily the easiest read, but it’s a story that’ll you can easily get lost into (in a good way) and it’ll grab onto your heartstrings before you even know it. It makes you examine how society acts (and sometimes not act) towards those with mental illness and hopefully in return, it’l make you consider and realize that as a society, we need to make changes.

“The problem with people is they forget that most of the time it’s the small things that count.”

—————-

About Jennifer Niven

By the time I was ten, I had already written numerous songs, a poem for Parker Stevenson ("If there were a Miss America for men, You would surely win"), two autobiographies (All About Me and My Life in Indiana: I Will Never Be Happy Again), a Christmas story, several picture books (which I illustrated myself) featuring the Doodle Bugs from Outer Space, a play about Laura Ingalls Wilder's sister entitled Blindness Strikes Mary, a series of prison mysteries, a collection of short stories featuring me as the main character (an internationally famous rock star detective), and a partially finished novel about Vietnam. I was also an excellent speller from a very early age.

In 2000, I started writing full-time, and I haven't stopped... I've written nine books, and when I'm not working on the tenth, I'm contributing to my web magazine, Germ, thinking up new books, and dabbling in TV. I am always writing.

three-half-stars

Author: Cyn

noun. a bum a student again. A master’s student…oooh. procrastinator. reader. eater. sleeper. music listen-er. movie go-er. Loves food too much.

0 Replies to “Review: All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven”

  1. I really loved this book. I was crying so hard at the end. I am surprised you didn’t give it higher than a 3.5 though. It sounded like you enjoyed it.

    1. I adjusted it to 3.5-4 stars, haha. It sort of lost a star for me at the time I read/reviewed it because of what I felt was tragedy for the sake of tragedy, but you’re right! I did really enjoy it still!
      I’m glad you really enjoyed it, too!

  2. I’m not usually in the mood to read books with mental illness themes, but I’m so very glad that they are being written. We do need to talk about it more, and stop treating mental illness as something that’s very scary. Scary mostly comes from lack of understanding! I took a mental health first aid course (it’s a legit certification course now) and that helped me so so much, because even though it was basic, it was a safe place to learn more about mental illnesses and ask lots of questions. I think all high schoolers should take it!

    1. My thoughts exactly! I’m glad the mental first aid is a legit thing now! Hopefully that’s a big step to more education and openness to understanding mental health (:
      Thank you for your comment!

  3. Exactly, I am so glad mental illness is becoming a trend lately, just such an important message and issues they present, in whatever way they form. I really loved this one, my favourite was Finch, though I did connect more with Violet. By the time I finished it, I was crying for an half hour straight. Still haven’t gotten over it. 🙁

    1. Agree! I’m glad you connected Violet; I really liked Finch, too! That ending, totally heartbreaking ):

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