All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven *Review*

Having suffered with Depression my entire life, I was excited to pick up a book that faced this illness head on.  It seems odd to want to read about characters going through the same horrible darkness I do all the time, but sometimes its just nice to know you aren’t alone.  I liked being able to relate and understand the feelings of Finch and Violet.  Depression is an illness many people don’t understand or those who have it find hard to put into words. I am genuinely grateful for books and authors like Jennifer who can explain and help people understand a little bit better.  Not everyones experiences or view points on Depression are the same either and while it was nice to be able to relate to these characters there were also many differences in how the illness effects me as opposed to them.  It’s really valuable to be able to understand different situations though and how an illness can effect everyone differently.  The raw reality of Depression and the innocence of high school love and the beauty of real friendship make All the Bright Places one of my favorite reads this year.

Goodreads Synopsis

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.

My Experience

The only thing that keeps me from rating this book 5 stars is the fact that I didn’t really feel the characters chemistry deeply and I just sort of felt like I knew what was going to happen and I was just waiting for it rather than just enjoying the story in between.  Other than that I really liked the characters.  Finch is one of the best characters I have read in a while, diverse, crazy, unique yet relatable in his own way.  I believe everyone has a bit of Finch in them, especially in High School.  Not exactly knowing who you are yet and trying out different personalities and just trying to come into your own.  I think at that age too many people are always trying to find their own forms of escape because High School is a really hard time emotionally.  Violet is also a great character.  She shows us that even if you’re super pretty and really popular and seemingly have it all that sometimes that isn’t really what its all about and there is more behind the scenes.  Anyone can feel just as alone and sad as anyone else no matter their social status or appearance or background.

I loved the relationship between these two and how they helped each other grow.  Depression can defeat many people, but that doesn’t mean that those that were in their lives didn’t in some way help them find happiness at times.  I believe Finch needed Violet as much as Violet needed Finch and as sad of an ending as it was they both got so much out of their love for each other.  But even though I believed their love and friendship, I didn’t feel it as strongly as other romances I have read, almost like they weren’t that deep in love or what not.  At the same time I also think thats good because in this way it didn’t seem as though Jennifer Niven was romanticizing mental illness.

This was a hard book to read and I cried a lot, but I’m so happy for this story and light it puts on such a hard topic.  People can only benefit from reading this book and learning a bit more about an illness that effects thousands.  Not only that but Finch and Violet’s story deserves to be heard and loved, they are characters that will stick with me for a long time.

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