Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

all the bright places

Details

Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Published in: 2015
Pages: 378
Genres: romance, contemporary fiction, realistic fiction, mental health/mental illness

Summary

“The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning!
 
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.”

-from Goodreads

My Review

All the Bright Places is about two teens, Violet Markey and Theodore Finch. Violet is overcome by grief and guilt over her sister’s death that happened about a year ago. Finch has undiagnosed bipolar disorder and is constantly thinking about death. They meet each other on the edge of the bell tower at the their school, both thing about jumping off. Then Finch saves Violet. Later the same day, they become partners for a school project to explore Indiana. They soon become friends and find they can be themselves with each other. As Violet spends more time with Finch, she begins to live again. But while Violet gets better, Finch gets worse.

One thing I liked about All the Bright Places was that the romance between Violet and Finch didn’t fix everything. In many YA books about mental health, the character with the mental health problem meets someone and then their problem is quickly cured. But that didn’t happen in All the Bright Places. Even though Violet starts to recover from her grief, their relationship didn’t fix Finch’s bipolar disorder. It didn’t just make it go away. His bipolar disorder was still a huge struggle for him throughout the book.

Another thing I liked was how it showed the labels and stigma associated with mental health and what can happen because of them. In the novel, Finch was very bothered by labels and worried about them a lot. When his counselor brought up bipolar disorder, Finch didn’t want to hear it. He saw bipolar as a label you gave crazy people. When Violet brought it up, he got angry at her. He didn’t want to be a label or a diagnosis. About a month after that, Finch committed suicide. He was too concerned with labels to consider that he had a problem and should get help. And unfortunately there is a stigma around mental health in real life and things like this really do happen.

One thing I didn’t like was how no one seemed to notice or care that Finch went through the manic and depressed phases. His mother was distant, his father was abusive, and his friends just wrote it off as something that he did. The only one besides Violet who seemed to really care about him was his older sister, Kate. Even when Finch send his family an odd email, his mother didn’t do anything. She didn’t even go out to look for him herself. She said she wanted to be home in case he came back, but you would think she would want to go out to look for him and bring him home.

I liked how the All the Bright Places ended. I felt like it concluded the story well. It was sad that Finch committed suicide and I wish that hadn’t happened. I wish that instead, Finch would have come home and got help. But I liked how Violet went to the remaining places on their list of places to explore and then back to the blue hole at the very end.

I really enjoyed reading All the Bright Places. The two main characters were both likeable and relatable. The plot was interesting and kept me reading. While it did not have a lot of action, it was full of emotion. It also dealt with several serious problems including grief, bipolar disorder, suicide, abuse, and bullying.

All the Bright Places was a good book about mental health and I wouldn’t mind reading it again.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

 

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