Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Genre: Young Adult
Review: 5/5 Stars
Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet at a critical moment that catapults their lives into an adventure neither one of them expected. Theodore is a “freak” at school, but no one not even the school counselor and his family can explain what goes on inside his head as he fights to stay “awake” and in control of his life. Violet is a bystander in her own life while she struggles to move past the tragic loss of her sister.
Can she help him stay “awake” and find peace in this world or just in his head? Can he help her live again and learn how to process the pain? A school project that requires them to “wander Indiana” together will put this to the test as they learn about their state and each other.
Five star reviews are RARE for me, but this book 100% deserved the rating. I connected with this book on a personal level due to my own high school experience and battle with mental health.
Finch is a whirlwind of a character that captured my attention from the beginning. He tries so hard to understand his own brain and not confine himself to labels, but his insistence on refusing labels leads to his downfall. It was heartbreaking how his family couldn’t see that he needed real help, and the school counselor sucked until the very end when it was too late. His love for Violet was beautiful, but it just goes to show that you can’t rely on another person for your own happiness and certainly not for your mental health.
Violet needed the push that he gave her – that everyone else was too scared to give her. She started actually participating in her life again even in the end when she had to finish the project and deal with a whole new fresh pain. She learned how to move forward without forgetting the tragedy but learning from it which is applicable to real life.
What makes this book stand out for me is what we learn from the characters and how they deal with what happens to them. It’s not pointless teenage drama. It’s real and powerful and something we should all remember.
Be kind even if you don’t understand. Seek help especially when you don’t understand. Learn from the past. Learn from the dark. And find the bright places because they are everywhere.
Side Note: Don’t watch the movie if you are a fan of the book. The characters are not fleshed out, and it is paced too quickly. And it changed details like how they MET (insert gigantic eye roll and exaggerated sigh).