by Jennifer Niven
Release date: January, 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. 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.
A word about the cover: So pretty, so delicate, I love it! I think it fits in beautifully with the content of the book.
Thoughts about the book:
I'm glad to say that most of the books I've read this year have turned out to be really good. Of course, I suppose one of the main reasons for this is that I've started abandoning books which don't rub me the right way (not saying that's a great thing, it's just what's happening), which means that if I end up finishing a book, it's probably good.
And this one obviously was. By now, you've probably heard of the million awards it's been getting nominated for and winning.
When you read All the Bright Places, you understand that it comes from a personal place. There's such a sensitivity with which the harsh reality of mental illness and abuse and grief has been handled (not to mention the author note at the end of the book). It's very well-written.
Things I liked:
- The dual PoV. I love to see how authors handle more than one narrator's voice and it's such a treat when someone gets it right.
- The writing. Like I keep saying, so much sensitivity. It's like cracked glass, delicate and sharp.
- Mental illness. So glad someone decided to talk about it. It needs to be talked about, more. Especially in books where that isn't the sole focus.
- Love. How the only kind of love to talk about isn't the kind that's forever. There are all kinds of love. All kinds and every kind is true and real in its own right.
- Indiana. Violet and Finch have to explore the 'wonders' of Indiana as part of their class project. So in a way, this read like a love letter to Indiana, because you only read about people exploring the big cities with their fancy lights, not states like Indiana, which I thought was very very cool.
- The emphasis on the word 'lovely'. 'Lovely' is one of my favourite words, and when Finch says, 'Lovely is a lovely word and should be used more often', he took away the new-fictional-bff trophy.
- The quirky light touch of this book. It's very rare to find books that deal with such serious issues dazzle like the sun. Really. The atmosphere of this book was so...hopeful.
This was a lovely book that left me in pieces. And such an important read, too. People need to be sensitized to how the good and the bad happen together, that neither is exclusive of the other, that mental illness exists and that age has nothing to do with it, that we have to look out for it instead of turning away from those afflicted by it. There needs to be more books like this. Good fiction works this way - commercial appeal, important book.
You know what the best piece of news about this book is? It's being made into a movie with Elle Fanning as Violet. They haven't found a Finch yet, but I'm waiting to be surprised.
Before that happens, go ahead and read it.
What's the last contemporary YA you've read?