All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven | Review

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4 stars

“You’re all the colours at one, in full brightness.”

All The Bright Places is a very powerful book. It had me wondering about how it would end, because as the story progresses you know it can only end one of two ways with both main characters alive or one not so alive.

‘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.’ (Summary from Goodreads)

“It’s my experience that people are a lot more sympathetic if they can see you hurting, and for the millionth time in my life I wish for measles or smallpox or some other easily understood disease just to make it easier on me and also on them.” 

All the Bright Places made me cry, a lot, and sympathize with the characters on so many levels. I suffer from depression, which was heightened by the sudden and unexpected death of my Dad; so I know how grief is an all-consuming force. Therefore, I could see where both characters were coming from. However, unlike both I’ve never thought about or attempted suicide because I’ve seen and experienced how death impacts the lives of those left behind and there is no way I could cause my family that much pain.

I absolutely loved that this book featured counseling with both Finch and Violet seeing a school counselor, as that kind of representation is important especially in a book with this content. I loved how insightful Finch’s counselor was and how much he wanted to help (something I really felt was missing from the TV show 13 Reasons Why, but that’s a rant for another day). However, counseling is important, and it really does help, you just need to find the right person to listen, therapy isn’t one size fits all.

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”

I treasured the fact that the back of the book is full of helplines and links to help those who maybe identify too well with the contents of the book, or who might have found it triggering. It is definitely important to include, some of those listed I have never heard of, but sounded quite interesting so I might look into them.

I really enjoyed the alternating POV in this book, getting to see the events through both Finch and Violet’s eyes; both voices were so unique and engaging. Violet’s family was so nice, caring, and recognised that Violet was suffering and was invested in helping her heal. I really wish there had been more Eleanor flashbacks because she seemed like quite the character. On the other hand, Finch’s family was a mess. They were so distant, they ignored the problems until it was too late, they just thought if they left him alone it would all sort itself out, plus his Dad was such a jerk.

I loved when you started to see that Violet had started to ‘live’ again, and that it was okay that she wasn’t the same person she was before the accident. Eleanor’s death changed her and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Death brings into focus, it makes you realise what is important and shows you who is really there for you. This is something I have lived through, so I appreciated the accurate representation. The final message of the book about death not being the end unless we let it because of the memories and love of those we’ve lost still lives within us… is very powerful, and a way of thinking I myself struggled with after my Dad, but its true. It’s only the end if you stop talking and thinking about them.

I truly loved this book, it was a complete emotional rollercoaster and I was left with a raw heart, but All the Bright Places is important to read.

“The problem with people is they forget that most of the time it’s the small things that count.”

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