Friday, February 27, 2015

All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places
By Jennifer Niven
Alfred A. Knopf, 2015. 388 pages. Young adult fiction.

Finch and Violet meet at the top of the school bell tower. Finch talks her off the ledge; Violet gets credit from her classmates for talking "Theodore the Freak" down. And thus starts a beautiful and unusual friendship between two troubled teens. Thrown together on a school project to discover Indiana, the two develop a close bond that others can't understand and begin a desperate journey to heal one another.

This may have been one of the most beautiful books I've read in a long time. But be warned: I spent the last third of the book crying, so this may not be the best book to pull out while you're waiting in line at the DMV or on your lunch break. Niven has woven a story that talks understandingly to teens (and adults) about mental illness, abuse, bullying, and suicide without ever sounding preachy or condemning. Her characters are troubled, but sympathetic, and you want desperately for both Finch and Violet to find peace. I'm actually getting teary writing up this review, so I'm going to end by saying that the book does have some strong profanities and teen sexuality, although nothing is graphically described. She covers some difficult topics, but they're important topics and beautifully written. And even though there is a lot of sadness, it ends with a tone of hope that makes it a book that is emotional, but not soul-crushing.


1 comment:

AJ said...

Told from the perspectives of both Theodore Finch and Violet Markey, this emotionally intense novel follows the lives of two teenagers dealing with big issues. Finch and Violet meet unexpectedly on the ledge of the school bell tower while both contemplating suicide. This chance meeting turns into a journey to discover the marvels of the state of Indiana and eventually to a desperate desire to heal and save one another.

This is a beautiful and well-written novel dealing with important issues such as mental illness and grief. It is difficult to read at times because you grow so attached to Finch and Violet who are going through tough times, but ultimately the end makes it worth it. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars or does not shy away from emotional stories.