All The Bright Places is just one of those bowl you over, knock you for six books. It is wonderful and heartbreaking and … just …. Arghhh!
It’s difficult to write a coherent review because it should be done with the least amount of spoilers as possible. But I want to write about all the amazing and awful things, I am in serious need of an All The Bright Places wordvomitfest (like my new word?). I will try to keep it limited though while still providing you with all the reason to read it – wow reviewing can be hard!
All The Bright Places is the story of Violet Markey, dealing with the death of her sister, and Theodore Finch, who has an obsession with suicide that traces back to an abusive and neglectful past but just hasn’t brought himself to do it yet. They meet in the bell tower where Finch talks Violet out of jumping. Two very broken souls come together and it could either be the start of something magical, or something heartbreaking.
This book covers some heavy topics – its characters are both dealing with depression of different kinds and when they fall in love they not only have to deal with their own problems but each other’s while never asking for or receiving the help they really need from parents or teachers or counsellors. All they have is what they have found in each other and I spent the majority of the book hoping it would be enough. I have never wanted a fictional couple – or any couple, really – to be together so much and not only that, to be able to stay together against all odds. I wished, unrealistically, for them to fight harder, to want to survive. I hate suicide stories but I read so many of them because I’m looking for not necessarily a happy ending, but an ending that will convince likeminded people to stay. I just want them to stay.
Both Violet and Finch were such real characters who felt so alive which I think is why it got to me. They felt as if they could have been people I knew or had once met or even just passed in the street. From their adventures through Indiana that brought out the wandering nature in me, to their poignant moments with each other, to their interactions with their families and peers, everything about them felt real to me. I could have read a neverending book about Finch and Violet. I loved them even when I was annoyed, and when I tried to understand what they were going through but felt like I must have just been missing it, and when I was begging them to stay, I loved Finch and Violet all throughout this book. Jennifer Niven has crafted some wonderful characters and a poignant, moving story I won’t forget in a hurry. There were moments when they frustrated me, especially Finch, as much as I tried to understand him I just wanted to shake him and yell at him to GET HELP.
So please, if you ever feel depressed, if you ever experience something like this, like Violet or Finch or even something different – there are places you can go and people you can go to for help. You are never alone.
If you only read one contemporary this year, make it this one.