All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
First: Bonus points if you can know where the title of this post comes from!
Second: I know I have been trying to get away from YA novels recently, but this one is definitely worth the read!
The story focuses on Finch, an eccentric young man who thinks too much about how to kill himself. One day on the ledge of the school bell tower he runs into a (semi) popular girl, and quite literally talks her off the edge (because Finch loves to talk). Violet’s sister recently died in a car accident and she is struggling through survivor’s guilt, unable to find where she fits into the world on her own.
Finch volunteers them to work together on a project of wandering their great state of Indiana, which ends up being more about changing their lives, than getting a good grade.
WARNING: This is a HEAVY read. I literally crawled into bed for 10 minutes and just lid there after finishing the novel.It is DEFINITELY worth the read though! THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IN THE REST OF THIS REVIEW.
Since you decided to keep reading, I will tell you exactly what it is that makes this story so heavy. As the reader we get to see the story line from Finch and Violet’s points of view separately. Going into it, I knew this story was about suicide, but this is what makes it different. Although as the reader I started seeing this signs (Finch giving his things away, living in his closet, etc), after these signs Finch’s narrative mostly drops off.
When Violet finds his body, the feeling of shock and bewilderment she feels, completely rips through the reader like it does through her. The whole time I never really thought Finch would go through with it, I thought Violet would change his mind, I didn’t think he would actually go through with it. As the reader, you really experience the shock and severity of what Finch does. (I have never experienced this first hand, but from what I imagine it’s very close).
As heavy and hard as it was to go through this with Violet, it was an absolutely amazing experience. I think the author did an amazing job of showing us the world through Violet and Finch’s eyes and really making us fall in love with them. Fall in love with the way they changed, grew, and overcame the difficult parts of being a teeenager, and of dealing with tragedy.
There is a lot of story after Finch’s untimely end, and for once I am not complaining. The last 100 pages (or so) are Violet searching out the closure she desperately needs. And once she figures it out, she sees that [completely unselfishly] Finch has left it for her. Because his decision to end his life had nothing to do with her, there was nothing she could have done to prevent it.
This novel is an amazingly written rollercoaster of confusion, pain, love, romance, more pain, and healing. In my humble opinion, it’s perfect.