Review: Jennifer Niven’s “All the Bright Places”

June 12, 2017

Hey, guys! Here is a book review for “All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven. I really enjoyed reading this book, and after reading this review, I hope some of you will pick it up. So, without further ado, read on.

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 book is alive. That is the best and simplest way to put it. As Jennifer Niven’s debut young adult novel, creating something that makes its readers feel so much is quite a feat. The way she manages to create characters that are real and strong is something that few authors can do. But most of all, these characters face trials that give a powerful message about bullying and helping others.

To warn you, “Bright Places” does deal with some heavy topics–ones that sometimes aren’t easy to read about. But Niven faces them head on, showing everyone reading that they aren’t topics you should avoid, but actually ones you should be open about. She doesn’t take the themes lightly, but she makes them personal. Finch and Violet are two complicated but vibrant people who meet in the (arguably) worst of ways–standing on a bell tower thinking about jumping off. As their friendship and love grows, the reader gets to know these deep, amazing characters in the most intimate of ways, through their thoughts.

When Finch’s world shrinks (to take a phrase from the summary), you feel that change with him. He goes from being the alive, crazy character readers have come to know, and starts to shrink into himself. What is amazing is that in some crazy way you feel it with him. As his thoughts and personality distort to make a new Finch that the reader isn’t familiar with, you can almost feel the same pain that he must feel. And when Violet gets to know Finch and really starts to get to know herself, you feel the change within her in you. She cares less about what people think, more about what makes her happy. Growing in the best of ways, Violet makes you somewhat satisfied at the end of the novel, even though it might not end as you hoped it would.

But seriously, this book teaches lessons that every reader can get something from. It teaches that words do hurt, that it is our responsibility to be kind and loving to everyone, and most importantly, that we need to notice and take care of the people around us–you never know what someone is going through.

So, I very strongly encourage you to read this book. While it might make you cry, it also is a story that will stay with you for a long, long time. I know after reading this one Jennifer Niven is going to be on my watch list for new releases. Oh, and I’m also running to B&N to pick up her other YA book, “Holding Up the Universe.” Stay tuned.

“She’s off again, and we push ourselves so hard and fast, I expect to go flying off the earth. This is my secret–that at any moment I might fly away. Everyone on earth but me–and now Violet–moves in slow motion, like they’ve been filled with mud. We are faster than all of them.”

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