“All The Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven (2015)
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
Page Length: 388 pages (hardcover edition)
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. (description from Goodreads)
This was the first book I’ve ever read that dealt explicitly with mental illness and depression head on. I’ve read many other novels before where characters had, were related to, and knew people in their life that deal with this, but none have never felt so realistic until reading All The Bright Places.
Through reading this novel I found it to be truly eye-opening to be placed in the p.o.v. of a character who deals with depression. I also commend Niven among with many other authors who write stories like this to bring awareness to these illnesses as well as other topics such as bullying (which is covered in the novel) and its damaging effects.
Many of the people surrounding Finch and Violet think they are both troubled teenagers. They try to keep a somewhat happy face on the outside, but on the inside they are struggling to try and handle the weight of their problems. Violet is mourning the loss of her sister and Finch wants to disappear forever.
Finch and Violet fit each other, and their relationship goes beyond the typical romance novel. They try to help each other through their problems and the places they travel to for their assigned project become therapeutic. The “wanderings” offer them a temporary escape to their own little universe.
Also while reading All The Bright Places one of the many things that came to mind is that I’ve never knew Virginia Woolf could sound so beautiful. The only thing I had ever read that was influenced by wolf was The Hours by Michael Cunningham,which is a story about three generations of women affected by a Virginia Woolf novel. I found the quotes in “Bright Places” to be lyrical and poetic.
An emotional roller coaster that brings awareness to important issues.