Synopsis: 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.
Huge thank you to Random House Canada for this ARC!
First off: Ouch. This book is very ouch. I am still recovering from the big, blubbery cry I had from reading this book.
All the Bright Places is a book that needs to be read, regardless of what age you are. It’s a book that focuses on love, mental illness, and the stigmas that surround it. When someone suffers from mental illness, they struggle to love themselves and see self-worth, something Niven captures so perfectly in this beautiful story. Finch and Violet have hardships, both with each other and within themselves. They struggle to love who they are, yet can see the beauty in each other. Their relationship was darling, yet so damn heartbreaking.
Identity plays a huge role in this story. Both Finch and Violet take baby steps to growth, and due to their emotional issues, they also take steps backwards as well. The reader really gets a sense of how trapped and constrained the protagonists are, and yet when they are together, there’s this beautiful sense of freedom — like they can do anything. They both need help, and although they have in their own saved each other, there’s this sense that until others recognize their suffering, that it isn’t enough. The message in this book is beautiful, strong, and it leaves you thinking… or sobbing into a hot cup of tea (in my case).
Jennifer Niven writes an emotionally charged novel that will punch you straight in the feels. Interestingly, you never feel ready for that punch, but when it happens, it happens hard and fast, and I felt like there was no recovery time. The mystery, the emotions, the beautiful prose, there is so much wonderful in All the Bright Places, and it will be one of those books that will completely linger with you, even after you’ve completed it.
If you wish to read River’s thoughts on ‘All the Bright Places’, check it out here.