Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven ♥ @jenniferniven
Expected Publication: January 6, 2015
Genre: Young Adult ♥ Contemporary ♥ Romance
Summary from Goodreads: The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this compelling, exhilarating, and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.
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.
This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.
Average Goodreads Rating (as of 12/10/2014): 4.40
- Christina thought this novel was a beautifully written. It goes on her TOP SHELF! To find out why…
**SPECIAL NOTE:** An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.
“The problem with people is they forget that most of the time it’s the small things that count. Everyone’s so busy waiting in the Waiting Place. If we stopped to remember that there’s such a thing as Purina Tower and a view like this, we’d all be happier.”
~quote taken from a Finch chapter in the eARC of All the Bright Places at 42%
♥ Actual Rating & Quick Thoughts:
4.5 stars! Propelled on the wings of a love that burns bright and slow, Niven tackled serious– and often untouched, unaddressed– topics in her emotionally compelling debut YA novel. All the Bright Places was a journey of a boy and girl, both lost in their own versions of despair and grief, and how they found one another and lifted each other up after a truly dark moment. But, as with life, it transitioned to something more. It became a book about honestly portraying how sometimes not all good moods stay, not all love lasts, and sometimes the people we love don’t last either. It was heartbreaking and beautiful and so purely delivered.
No wonder this book has already been optioned for film. It’s the kind of tragic love story you will sit through because the exploration of the highest highs of love and the lowest lows of depression are so beautifully interwoven in this tale, it makes for the prettiest crushing blows when you hear your heart shatter into a million pieces. This author is definitely on my radar now.
♥ The Lowdown: It’s been almost a year since Violet has lost her sister to a car accident, yet she feels just as broken and lost as the day it happened. So immersed in her grief, she wants to be shocked when she finds herself on top of a ledge at her school’s bell tower, but it almost feels like it wakes her up. Or it could be the boy that’s suddenly on the ledge with her. Finch, better known as Theodore Freak, is known for his off-the-handle temper, rockstar good looks, and “troubled” persona that makes him aloof one moment and loud and crazy the next. But on this day, he talks her down to the ground and makes her classmates believe that she saved him. And then he’s suddenly everywhere. Volunteering her to be his partner in a class assignment, standing outside her window in the dead of night during winter asking her to come down and take a trip with him, pushing her past her limits, telling her to find her mountain, and making her feel so alive after almost a year of nothing. It’s infuriating and liberating.
Finch feels awake after months, and he’s terrified of the sleeping times, those periods of lonely darkness when he feels suffocated by life and everything in it. He’s also infatuated with the longest, deepest sleep of all, death. When will it happen? How will it happen? Will it be a random, cosmic event or will it happen on his own terms? He’s a boy that leaps through different personalities, searching for the skin that feels most like him, and all the while, he contemplates death and tries to ward of the darkness that always, always feels like it’s breathing down his neck. But then Violet happens and she’s this crazy-good buoyancy that makes him feel like he’s floating and so he becomes fixated on her. He wants so much for her to be the light that keeps away the dark. But even the loveliest of people can’t keep some moods away. The dark is closing in again, and he doesn’t want it to burn out the reawakened light in Violet.
“I can go downstairs right now and let my mom know how I’m feeling– if she’s even home– but she’ll tell me to help myself to the Advil in her purse and that I need to relax and stop getting myself worked up, because in this house there’s no such thing as being sick unless you can measure it with a thermometer under the tongue. Things fall into categories of black and white– bad mood, bad temper, loses control, feels sad, feels blue.
~ quote taken from a Finch chapter in the eARC of All the Bright Places at 49%
♥ My Thoughts: To be honest, this will probably be the shortest section in this review because I’ve tried to gather my thoughts and emotions a few times on this novel and all the ways it touched my heart and my mind, but every time I seem to have them all compiled and tidy and ready to write, they scatter beneath my fingers and I feel blank and wrung dry and maybe that’s more of an accurate depiction of how this story left me. It’s not often that I come across books that truly affect me. I’m also always amazed when an author puts something of themselves into a story, something so intimate and personal, and so when people judge those stories, they’re also judging a part of their lives. Niven managed to do both with this novel, and I truly appreciate that.
For me, novels like All the Bright Places are so important for readers, in general, but especially teens. Even though I’m trying so hard to still figure myself out as an adult, teenage years still play out as the most confusing years of my now almost twenty-nine years on this earth, and I had it relatively easy. I can’t imagine how difficult and trying it must be for others, when they’re bullied or have illnesses that are explained away or rarely discussed at all. It must be lonely space to dwell in. So, yes, books like these are probably a life-raft for those experiencing, and surviving, times like these. To know that you aren’t alone in the burdens you carry and the secret thoughts you keep, and that help is available if you need it. It’s important to realize that there are reasons to live, and though impossible as it seems, there are people that love you and will be left alone if you cease to exist. That there will be someone who will need you and miss you. Niven wrote a beautiful, painful story of the darkness of depression and mental diseases and the often misrepresented stigmatism that follow those labels. She crafted believable characters that made me feel and hurt and love, and ones that I felt fiercely protective of and wanted to root so desperately for a happily-ever-after with. But she kept it honest, and though it killed me a million times over, I appreciated that she showed the imperfectness of humans and how our flaws make us who we are and that even though we wish on stars and want that feel-good ending with bows and rainbows, sometimes hopelessness gets the better of people and their light burns out way before its natural expiration date. I just wish I could’ve crawled in this book and put Finch in my pocket for safekeeping.
♥ Swoony teaser: Even though this novel is filled with serious topics, Niven was able to capture the best of how fulfilling and beautiful love can be. Finch definitely had his moments of swoon.
“When she looks up again two miles later, she says, “You know what I like about you, Finch? You’re interesting. You’re different. And I can talk to you. Don’t let that go to your head.”
The air around us feels charged and electric, like if you were to strike a match, the air, the car, Violet, me– everything might just explode. I keep my eyes on the road. “You know what I like you about you, Ultraviolet Remarkey-able? Everything.”
~quote taken from a Finch chapter in the eARC of All the Bright Places at 53%
♥ Rec it? Absolutely. As I’ve stated already, it could be a crucial, influential book for readers. If there’s power in words, the Niven has the ability to touch a lot of hearts. This could be a conversation-starter. It could be the wake-up call for parents, friends, teachers, classmates, etc. It could be the saving grace for others. It directly confronts all the complexities of life, grief, depression and other mental illnesses with lovely prose and a slow-burning romance that gets snuffed out far too soon. I loved this book; it’ll be one I revisit often.
“I want to get away from the stigma they all clearly feel just because they have an illness of the mind as opposed to, say, an illness of the lungs or blood. I want to get away from all the labels. “I’m OCD,” “I’m depressed,” “I’m a cutter,” they say, like these are the things that define them. One poor bastard is ADHD, OCD, BPD, bipolar, and on top of it all he has some sort of anxiety disorder. I don’t even know what BPD stands for. I’m the only one who is just Theodore Finch.
~quote taken from a Finch chapter in the eARC of All the Bright Places at 74%
♥ A very special thanks to Knopf and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.