Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Release Date: January 8th 2015
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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
This book was a really hard one for me to review. While towards the end the characters, their emotions and what they go through, felt very real I found it hard to connect to the story at the beginning. Still I was in tears by the end of this book; I didn’t want it to end, I didn’t want to leave Violet, Finch and their story behind. Before I go any further into this review there are a lot of mentions and references to suicide in this book, so if that is something you’re uncomfortable with or don’t want to read then I would give All the Bright Places a miss.
*Possible spoilers for All the Bright Places below*
You may think, like I did starting this book, that mentions and references are something you can deal with, but there is a lot more to it than just that. I’m not going to say exactly what to try and avoid spoilers, but if I’d have known going into this book what happened I would not have picked it up because it’s something I was really uncomfortable reading. That’s not to say this isn’t an amazing book, it really really is, I gave it four stars after all, but it’s very hard to read in places.
*End of spoilers*
When Violet and Finch first meet, or when they make their first real connection beyond sharing one class together in high school, they are both sitting on the ledge of a tower contemplating jumping. Finch brings Violet back and for some reason protects her reputation by making the school believe she was the one talking him down, rather than the other way around. Finch is weird, a freak, so it’s no problem for the school and the counsellor he sees to believe he was the one about to jump.
From that moment Finch feels a connection to Violet, while all she wants is to leave what she almost did in the past. He ambushes her into being his partner for a geography assignment, to explore some of the areas that make Indiana unique, and it’s the start of something more for both of them. Violet has been lost since her sister died, but Finch slowly starts pulling her out of her hole and shows her there is so much more of life left to be lived; so much more to see of Indiana and to make of the world. But as Finch helps Violet find herself he is the one who starts feeling lost again.
Violet is an amazing character, and the development she goes through in this book is so incredibly well written. When we’re first introduced to Violet she is close off; from her friends, her family, her writing. Everything that made Violet Violet has been locked away after her sister’s death. But when she meets Finch he is determined not to let her hide from the world. He pulls her out of her shell and shows her there is still more to the world even with her sister gone.
As Violet starts opening up to Finch she opens up to herself more. She starts pulling together the pieces of her life from before Eleanor’s death and creates something new with them, something just for her.
Finch, while an incredibly written character, was one I really struggled to identify with. He is not well, not normal, and because his whole life he has been unable to ask for help he has shut so much of himself away behind walls no one can reach. With Violet he starts opening up more, introducing her to his world and to his way of seeing things but it isn’t enough. Finch spirals a lot in this book. It’s hard to see into his mind because there is so much of his life that is broken and that he doesn’t know how, or want, to fix.
While there is some insta-love between Finch and Violet from Finch’s perspective I still enjoy the way their relationship developed after their initial meeting. They start off as uneasy partners, then become friends, and then something more.
Both Violet and Finch are broken characters when they meet, and part of me was worried this would be a story where the romance fixed everything. However this was not the case with All the Bright Places. Spending time with Finch did help Violet, but not because she falls in love with him. Instead he shows her there is still something in the world for her even with Eleanor gone. On the other hand what is wrong with Finch isn’t something that can be fixed. He is aware he is broken and aware that he is no good for Violet, but he can’t help wanting to be near her. Finch is a character who doesn’t want to heal, or he doesn’t think he can.
There were parts of this book that were very hard to read but everything it tackles; from Violet’s sister’s death to mental illnesses to suicide was incredibly well handled. Finch and Violet are so much more than their issues or their illnesses. They are two incredible characters who have an incredible story to tell.
What did you think of All the Bright Places? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.