All the Bright Places

all-the-bright-places


Title: All the Bright Places

Author: Jennifer Niven

Series: N/A

Publisher: Penguin

Release Date: January 8th 2015

Rating:

Four Stars

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…

…The Plot

“I am on the highest branch.
We are written in paint.
I believe in signs.
The glow of Ultraviolet.
A lake. A prayer. It’s so lovely to be lovely in Private.”

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.

“What a terrible feeling to love someone and not be able to help them.”

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.

…The Characters

“Since I stopped writing, I read more than ever. Other people’s words, not my own—my words are gone.”

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.

“I do my best thinking at night when everyone else is sleeping. No interruptions. No noise. I like the feeling of being awake when no one else is.”

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.

“What if life could be this way? Only the happy parts, none of the terrible, not even the mildly unpleasant. What if we could just cut out the bad and keep the good? This is what I want to do with Violet—give her only the good, keep away the bad, so that good is all we ever have around us.”

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.

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41 thoughts on “All the Bright Places

  1. Really glad to see you enjoyed this! I’ve heard a lot of mixed things, but I definitely trust your opinion so it’s reassuring to see this review! I think I’ve been putting this one off because I feel like it’s gonna be a bit too relatable and I’m not sure I’m ready for it. It’s definitely high up on my TBR though and hopefully I can get to it soon. Lovely review, Beth ♥

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Lauren. It was definitely a heavy book in places, and an uncomfortable read in others, but overall it was a good story. It was really well written too so even in the uncomfortable places it was never because the subject wasn’t dealt with well you know?
      I do hope you enjoy this one, and that it isn’t too hard for you to get through either.
      Thanks again Lauren. ❤

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  2. Thank you for writing this review. I finished this book this past summer, but I just couldn’t write the review for it. I sat down and I tried and tried, but I never got anywhere with it. I think I’m far too close to the subject matter. But you’re right– this is a challenging but brilliant book. I’m quite glad I read it. But, I’ll be careful who I recommend this to. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s all right, I’m really glad you liked my review Jackie. Honestly I kind of felt the same way when I finished this book, would I be able to write a review for it? But, well, it was an amazing book and I guess I just wanted to be able to post something about it so I could talk to the people on WordPress about it you know.
      It was a challenging book but I never felt the subject was dealt with badly you know? Either way I agree, I’ll be careful who I recommend this one to as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree that the subject matter was handled masterfully. Mental illness is not easy to understand, and it can be so challenging to deal with. I love how Niven shows the frustration of the unknown with her characters. Both Theodore and Violet struggle with this, as well as their friends and family. It feels so real.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review Beth! 🙂 I enjoyed this novel. I agree it was not an easy read, but it was a well written novel (in my opinion). What I really enjoyed was how the two traveled all over the state seeing different things. I thought that was so cute, and cool. The big ball of paint I learned is a real thing, so that’s pretty neat! 😀

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    1. Thanks so much Meghan. Overall it was a good story but definitely not easy to read, more in certain places than in others!
      Oh the wandering part of this story was my favourite part I think. I’d think all the places mentioned were real ones, but possibly not I guess. The fact that the ball of paint at least is is amazing though! I’m not sure we have any unique wonders like that in Southend where I live! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome! They could possibly be all real, I’m not sure I just remember reading it and being very curious about the ball of paint, and what do you know it’s real. I’m sure there is something special about where you’re from you just have to go out and look for it. I have yet to find that something special where I am!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I almost feel like if the ball of paint was real the others must be as well. It may be worth looking up one day just to see. Honestly there’s probably somewhere special about every place in the world but it’s the looking that’s the main issue I guess. Maybe we’ll both have to do some wandering in our home towns! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Marie, and yes this was definitely a beautiful story. ❤️ Although, yeah, it was uncomfortable for me to read it was never because of the way it was written more just because of the nature of the topic you know?
      Did you read the Author’s Note in this book? I don’t normally but I did for this book and it was really interesting reading the authors insight into the subject. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I actually really liked this book – I read it ages ago when it first came out, and I found it really sad and sweet and heartbreaking. I didn’t see Finch’s and Violet’s relationship as insta-love, surprisingly… I guess I kind of attributed it to grief. “Very hard to read in places” sounds about right though – by the end it was kind of like watching a trainwreck and really unsettled me.

    Fantastic review, Beth! Do you think you prefer this one or Holding Up the Universe?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I still thought it was a brilliant book; heartbreaking yes but incredibly well written and the subject was well handled as well which was great because it’s a sensitive one I guess. I can see what you mean I just felt, and it was mainly from Finch’s POV, that he fell for Violet very quickly.
      I was in tears by the end (and trying very hard not to cry because I was reading this on the train home from work!)
      Thanks so much Reg, I think when it comes down to it I do prefer this one just because it had a more emotional hit than Holding Up the Universe you know? Don’t get me wrong both were good books but I just connected to this one more. 🙂

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      1. I can understand! Tbh I read this ages ago that I don’t really remember the details, but I did skim it some weeks ago before reading Holding Up the Universe and I did feel like Finch was thinking about Violet quite intensely even in the beginning.

        It’s hard for me to choose! I related with Holding Up the Universe more, but this book was heavier and more impactful. I probably like this one better as well – I didn’t love Jack/Libby as much as I love Finch/Violet. 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Intensely is a good way to describe Finch’s feelings for Violet in the beginning, but maybe that was just the way his character was. Like you said earlier maybe it was his grief that made his feelings strong you know?
        I think it was the fact that this book had more of an impact on me that made me love it more. Either way I’m the same, I loved Finch and Violet more than Jack and Libby. 🙂

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  5. You described perfectly how I felt while reading this book. I remember I adored the author’s writing style and how she was handling certain things but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t connect with it at times. And some of it was so hard to read because of the subject matter. I’ve never read another book that went head on into the topic of suicide like that before and it’s always been a tough subject for me that I have a hard time reading about. All of that aside, reading your review has made me want to give this book a second chance. I actually DNFed it previously but I think it could be worth looking into again. I know I was recently talking with another blogger about how sometimes books come into our lives at the wrong times. Maybe that is this book, for me. Great review as always, Beth! I’m really glad you ended up enjoying this but I’m sorry it made you really uncomfortable at times. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was brilliantly written, and everything was definitely amazingly handled as well which is something worth noting given the subject of the book as well. For me it was mainly Finch and some of his decisions, actions and thoughts I couldn’t wrap my mind around. He was still a brilliant character but he felt too far away you know?
      I think this was a tough book, and year hard to read at times but it’s worth getting to the end (I read the Author’s Note at the end which I don’t normally do and it was really interesting what she had to say on the subject as well) so I hope you do pick this one up again Melissa and I do hope you enjoy it more the second time around.
      I remember that, that was Fadwa’s post wasn’t it? I think if I’d have read this book a few years ago it would have been at the wrong time in my life as well, this was definitely a better time to read this one for me.
      Thanks so much Melissa, and hopefully this book won’t make you uncomfortable when you read it! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I get what you mean. It’s been so long since I actually read it that I only have a fuzzy recollection beyond how it made me feel but I distinctly remember not really connecting with Finch. I found myself looking ahead a lot because of that.
        It seems like it and I’ll definitely remember about the author’s note. I usually try to read them but sometimes I forget. I hope so too!
        Yep, it was Fadwa’s post. I had never really thought about it that way until reading her post, which was brilliant. I think it had to have been that for me.
        You’re welcome, Beth! 💕😊

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I feel that way about some books, the longer it’s been since I’ve read them the more fuzzy I get on the subtler details. But at least I wasn’t the only one who had a few issues connecting with Finch’s character.
        Honestly this was the first one I read, and it was just because of the subject matter but I may go and read a few more now just because it was quite interesting.
        I’d never thought about it either but after reading Fadwa’s post I definitely did. Luckily this was a good time for me to read this book! 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much, and this is a really good book so I’d recommend reading it sooner rather than later! 🙂
      That’s all right. I wasn’t sure if it was something that was actually spoils the story but I wanted to make sure just in case. I never want to actually ruin a book for someone because I didn’t tag my spoilers! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Fantastic review. I’ve been spoiled regarding the plot and story (I asked to be spoiled cause I didn’t plan on checking this out) but, by the sound of it, the author did an excellent job in handling those strong subjects. I hear a lot of people couldn’t help tearing up by the end, and I’m glad to see that novel was still appreciable although it was uncomfortable for you!

    – Lashaan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Lashaan. I guess at least you know how it ends already, and it would have given you a much better idea without even picking it up whether this book was for you or not.
      The author definitely did an amazing job. Yes there were parts that were uncomfortable for me but not because of the writing or the way it was handled, just because of the nature of the subject. I was in tears by the end as well, it was so heartbreaking.

      Liked by 1 person

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