All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven- 5 Stars are not enough!
Oh my poor battered soul... this book had me in tears. Real cry out loud tears.
I was warned by many of my beloved friends on Bookstagram that this was going to happen, but I did not expect it to be that sad and touching. Going in, I had no idea what the book was going to be about. I knew there would be a rather depressed teenage girl, but that was it. I was not prepared!
The book is often compared with The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and I could not think of a better comparison myself. That was another book that made me cry... gosh, when did I became such a crier? I wasn't always like that... I am getting softer as I get older 😂
Here is the synopsis (wiki):
Theodore Finch and Violet Markey are two teenagers that want to escape from their small Indiana town. Violet counts down the days until she can move away and escape the memories of her sister's death, while Theodore struggles with severe mental illness. The suffering pair find their quirky friendship transformed into a poetic and beautiful romance. The two meet by chance on their school's bell tower with suicidal intentions, and it is never clear who saves whom from falling to their death. If this isn't enough to tie the two together, Finch asks Violet to be his partner for a class project to wander Indiana and find tourist attractions throughout their state. The pair explore Indiana and beyond in the months that follow. However, as Violet's world grows, Finch's world begins to shrink.
This beautiful Young Adult Contemporary novel is about two teenagers that are somewhat damaged. They feel isolated and trapped within themselves.
Violet lost her sister in a car accident and blames herself for it. She is depressed and refuses to deal with it. Classic PTSD.
Finch has serious mental issues and refuses to acknowledge it. The worse part however, is that so does his family. It angered me to no end that his family was not trying to figure out what was wrong with him. But, that is the reality of many teens and adults out there with his kind of illness. We all know someone that thinks bipolar disorder is not real. We all know someone who thinks depression is just an excuse. So although the way his parents/family is portrayed angers me, it does not anger me because Jenifer Niven's writing is not accurate, but because it is. And I, for one, wish people understood those illnesses better. Or at the very least, were more acceptable of it.
I read a review (not gonna say where to avoid clashing with anyone) that criticized the book heavily on the premises that Finch's relationship with his parents was not realistic. That they would have known something was wrong with him. I thought that review to be ridiculous. They did know something was 'off'' with him. Towards the end they are flat out told something is wrong with him. They chose not to believe it. And liking it or not many do that exact same thing in real life.
So, now that I have ranted about that enough...
The book is about mental illnesses, sure. But it is also more.
It is about being alone, and it is about having a best friend. Or in Finch's case, wanting to have one. One of the most touching parts of the book for me was Finch saying he wished he had a best friend. Someone who knew his soul just as Violet sister's once knew hers. Gosh...I am a wimp... just by writing about it I am getting teary again....
The writing is pure perfection. It alternates between being narrated by Violet and being narrated by Finch. We get a full look into both their minds and are able to connect with both too. They are VERY different characters. Violet is quiet and wrapped up in her own mind. She is trying to discover herself without her sister and struggling to see a point in life without her. Finch has super high energy levels, his mind never stops. But he also has massive lows and finds himself completely crippled by depression.
The relationship between the two is beautiful. Finch saves Violet from herself, brings her back to life... But I am afraid that telling you all more than that would be telling you the whole book. So I will stop here...
If you did love The Fault in Our Stars, go read All The Bright Places
. It is a completely different story but it will touch you just as much.