Book: All The Bright Places, Jennifer Niven
Release Date: January 6th, 2015
Rating: 5 stars
I knew this book was going to be emotional from the get-go. I mean, the blurb says it’s: 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. Both those books were incredibly emotional, so I knew this book would be no better. My friend recommended it to me, and I’m so glad she did. I have no idea how to put into words how this book made me feel.
This book is about teen suicide and bullying. But, it’s also about some wonderful characters, moments that make you happy-cry, and a whole lot of crazy that makes you wonder about your path in this world.
Our two main characters are Violet and Finch. They meet on the top of a bell tower, infamous for suicide attempts. Violet is the popular girl with friends, while Finch is labelled a freak because his brain works a little differently from ours. Finch manages to talk Violet down from the tower, but because of the status quo, she is labelled a hero while he is labelled a suicidal freak. Violet and Finch become friends after this encounter, although it takes a lot of pushing on Finch’s part to get Violet to open up. In high school, labels are everything, and Violet doesn’t forget this when she’s seen hanging around someone like Finch. However, Violet is going through survivor’s-guilt when she lived after a car crash a year ago and her sister didn’t. She feels responsible and is afraid to live her life anymore. She doesn’t go out, or ride in a car and doesn’t care about college.
Finch helps her deal with these issues in his unique way. Finch’s mind is incredibly unique, and it’s quite hard to explain. He is always thinking about death and killing himself and finds it really hard to quiet the thoughts in his head. His family life is, unlike Violet’s, is very unsupportive. They don’t see what he’s going through, and when they notice anything unusual, they just think “That’s just Finch.” Finch himself doesn’t see what a wonderful person he is, and the amount of potential he has. All he has is the father that abandoned them, the mother who drinks her days away, and two sisters that aren’t mature or old enough to help. He couldn’t even tell Violet what he’s going through because he doesn’t what her to label him, or see him less than what she sees when she’s with him: how wonderfully special he is.
They do fall in love, and Finch helps Violet see that there’s life after death; that it’s okay to live even when someone important has passed.
I loved how the author incorporated labels, suicide and mental and physical illnesses into this book. People can sympathise over a broken arm or leg, but once someone has a mental illness like bipolar disorder, they’re labelled. They’re the way they are because of the disorder. There’s no sympathy. Nobody brings flowers for a suicide, but they will for a car crash victim.
I think this book impacts one’s soul in an incredibly powerful way. It’s full of wonderfully poignant, inspiring quotes and I hope anyone who reads this takes something important away from it. That mental illnesses are not labels, they are not an excuse to write someone off as being the way they are. Suicide is just as saddening as a car crash, and deserves flowers just as much. Don’t give up on life even when it feels like it’s crumbling around you. Remember:
“Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!”