Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

brightFrom Goodreads:

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.

Be still, my heart. How can one book tear me a apart and warm my soul all at the same time? All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is one of the saddest novels I have ever read. Yet, at the same time, I found myself laughing and smiling throughout the entire book. It is a story of adventure, tragedy, love, heartbreak, and everything in between. To be honest, I knew I wanted to read this book because it was so popular last year; I had no idea how depressing it was until I started reading.

All the Bright Places goes back and forth between Violet and Fintch’s perspectives. When they meet on the bell tower, a very unusual meet cute, Violet and Finch notice each other, for the first time, beyond their typical high school stereotypes. Violet is popular and Finch has been labeled a “freak” since middle school. Their very unusual friendship turns into something more while they are “wandering” around Indiana.

I adore the project that Violet and Finch are assigned in history class. How many of us have yet to discover all of the great things within the state we live in?  What an amazing opportunity for high school seniors to get out there and explore their state before they potentially go away to college. Violet and Finch go above and beyond the assignment requirements and wander to more than just two unique places in Indiana. They start their quest by traveling to the highest point in Indiana. I have always wanted to go to Indiana since my grandmother grew up there, this book inspired me to think about making a whole vacation out of it. Check out this pinterest board for wanderings in Indiana created by the author, Jennifer Nevin. I love when books continue to impact your life after you read them. That’s inspiring.

Although All the Bright Places is a fun book, it is also very, very serious. Both Violet and Finch have emotional issues that they need help with. They are both depressed for significantly different reasons. Along their journey they help each other through their pain with post-it notes, songs, and friendship. But sometimes, someone just can’t be helped, at least they don’t believe so.

Bullying is real. And I know there are campaigns and health class lectures and counselors, but kids still can’t grasp how their words and actions affect one another. All the Bright Places is very similar to The Fault in Our Stars and, my all time favorite book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It has a message that is so powerful and life altering. It is one of those books that I can see myself reading again and again. All the Bright Places could be the ticket to showing someone that there is so much happiness in this world: so much to live for, so much to do. It could also stop a bully from continuously torturing someone. The message in this book could potentially change someone’s life, forever.

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” Cesare Pavese Pg. 315


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