All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven

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Blurb: “Theodore Finch wants to take his own life. Violet Markey is devastated by her sister’s death. They meet on the ledge of the school bell tower, and so their story begins. It’s only together they can be themselves… But, as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to Shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?”

At the start of the year I read a list of the upcoming Young Adult books in January – March. My eyes instantly fell on All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven and I made a mental note to buy it the second I found it in my local bookstore. Sadly it spent a good month on a shelf whispering “read me” until my beloved book jar decided that I was ready to pursue this adventure.

Before I delve into this review I have to give a content warning.
As you’ve guessed from the blurb, this book contains adult themes and so may be unsuitable for those at the younger end of the YA age bracket. Also, suicide plays  big role in this book so if you’re easily triggered by that topic, be careful. (It’s not my place to tell you what to and what not to read. You have that freedom.)

The story follows teenagers Theodore Finch and Violet Markey who meet on the ledge of their school’s bell tower, both attempting to end their lives. In a twist, Finch manages to convince Violet to step away from the edge but when rumours spread around the school, Violet is seen as the hero who saved Finch; not the other way around. Violet and Finch are the typical type of characters you would expect in a YA contemporary: Violet is the popular one and Finch is the badass everyone hates. What made this book stand out for me despite this, was the fact it was told from both Violet and Finch’s perspective. This was really refreshing as it allowed me to get inside the heads of both characters and learn what problems they face. In this case, Finch has attempted to take his life before and still thinks about it every day, even keeping a journal listing ways to commit suicide and how successful they have been (hence the trigger warning). While Violet, is plagued by the death of her sister caused by a car accident in which Violet was the driver. The topic of death was handled very delicately and didn’t feel like it was stereotyped.

Finch and Violet are paired together on a Geography project about discovering new places. Finch recommends they discover places around Indiana and if they take something from that place, they leave something behind as a memory of themselves. Thus the story begins.

The concept of wandering really changed my outlook on life. The idea of going out and leaving your mark in places, even if they were only small, was a fundamental part of this book as it also showcased the growing friendship between the two characters.

At first I was unsure about Finch. He felt like too much of a cliche for me but as I continued reading I actually started really liking him. The characters were fleshed out so well that I could relate to them and I felt like they were real. I cared deeply what happened to both of them. (Warning: this book is a tearjerker)

I spent most of this reading experience wanting to give Violet a hug. She was just a wonderful character and if any fictional person could be my friend, I would want it to be Violet Markey.

I cannot give this book justice. I can’t describe exactly what I felt when reading this book but it was a unique feeling.

Also another thing I loved about this book was the addition of helpline numbers listed in the back for anyone going through similar situations to the characters.

I recommend that everyone pick up this book and give it a read.
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