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.
This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.
A kind and grateful thank you to Penguin Australia for sending me a copy of
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven in exchange for an honest review.
~This review does contain spoilers~
“You know what I like about you, Finch? You’re interesting. You’re different. And I can talk to you. Don’t let that go to your head.”
… “You know what I like about you, Ultraviolet Remarkey-able? Everything.”
Jennifer Niven | All the Bright Places
I believe that the books that truly hit you the hardest are not the ones that have endings you didn’t see coming. It’s the ones that you saw coming, but couldn’t stop. In a sense it is this inability to stop something from happening that you wish you could that sets the final tone for this book. Even within its brighter places there exists this darkness that will always be remembered.
Niven has created a richly character driven tale that realistically discusses the far reaching effects of depression. Violet and Finch’s lives collide on the edge of the roof of their school. Violet is tumbling in the aftermath of the loss of her sister in a tragic car accident, while Finch is contemplating taking his own life. Tasked to complete an assignment that encourages exploration of their home town ends up being an exploration of identity and love as they both try to unravel a way to live now.
Niven wrote her characters with an enormous level of dimension that they will forever be memorable. Finch is very reminiscent of Augustus Walters (John Green) and Keith (Ron Carlson) in tone, but he also holds his own in the category of well written characters. For me, his complexity truly made me favour his perspective over Violets. Originally I felt as though I could never truly get a good gauge on who he was. Upon realising that this was because Finch continuously tried to be someone else, whether that was because he felt he wasn’t good enough or that if he was someone else then he could forget about what was going on his head, you as a reader just have to commemorate Niven on writing such a character that is both witty and engaging but also darkly forgotten.
His obsession with the suicide of great authors and poets directs his actions to find a way that he can end his life in a way that will be memorable. His obsession begins to change when he meets Violet and he has a reason to continue exploring life, but the factors that played into his depression in the first place becomes too overwhelming. I think it is incredibly powerful to write such a character that helps someone in Violets position. Finch understands Violet, but he also loves her and wants her to admire the beauty and opportunities life has to offer. Finch understands what the world has to offer, he sees the beauty in it just as much as he sees the darkness. Although he tried to be better, he needed help.
I admire that Niven was able to not only give us both our main characters perspectives on such an illness but also the various perspectives of all who are affected during such times. You’re left screaming at oblivious characters. You want to scream at those who respond with kindness when they were incapable of showing such emotions when someone was alive.
The topic within this novel is written incredibly well. You’re left with dampened eyes and a slight sadness in your soul, especially when such a novel connects with you on a deeper level. I didn’t want to write a review that dives into my opinion on such a topic, because that isn’t the point.
We learn and grow by exploring another perspective, and I highly recommend this novel because of this.
Expand your horizons. Wander into this world.