Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Penguin (8 Jan 2015)
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.
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Thank you to Penguin first and foremost, for getting me involved in spreading this book like wildfire, through blog posts on quotes and giving me a proof copy that broke my heart.
I feel like the comparisons this books draws to the likes of John Green and Rainbow Rowell is fairly accurate - but not through the teenage hipster hype of pretty looking books, but rather in the way that these authors and their creations take what is affecting teenagers of today and bring it to light. All too often, teenage and young adult issues get shoved under the rug, and labelled as being dramatic, overly sensitive, attention seeking, yet these books manage to capture the essence of their plights in a very realistic and relatable manner. And that’s where I’ll begin with All The Bright Places.
Enter Violet and Finch. Both troubled, complex characters, each dealing in their own way with mounds of grief and issues. We have Violet, who’s pain is pretty much laid out for all to see - she’s lost a sister in a car accident that she managed to survive - yet is she really living? Dragging around with her the guilt of survival, she stops doing all that was dear to her, like writing. She takes to the ledge of her school rooftop, in the hopes of ending her life - yet that’s when her life really begins.
Enter Finch. Unlike Violet, we don’t know for sure what exactly is wrong with him, but even without a label, we can tell he’s troubled. Yet again, unlike Violet, he’s full of life and spontaneity, bursting at the seams to constantly stay awake. Be alive. He’s erratic, weird, crazy, intelligent, blunt. He too takes to the roof, not to die per se, but to feel alive in that rush. Yet when these two suicidal characters meet, they begin on a journey of both survival and heartbreak.
Both characters are complex, and well developed, with flaws and praises, each to their own. I feel like the author did a great job in constructing these two individuals and the plight with which they live in, and brings together issues that people face in everyday, as well as the reactions they receive. Another reviewer on GoodReads captured the essence of this story perfectly - “all they want to do is save each other, but can they save themselves?”.
What the author takes us on throughout the story, via opposing POV, is a tale of friendship, survival, loss, heartbreak (oh the heartbreak) but it’s done so beautifully that though your heart hurts, there’s a little piece of you that feels like it couldn’t have been any other way. With flowing and easy to read writing that captures you from page one, you honestly can’t put it down. The characters both draw from each other, find solace and survival from each other, what could possible be more fulfilling? *wipes solitary tear from eye*. A stunning debut novel from this author who written a corker.
I did a post earlier on about my favourite quote from the book - here it is again to show you the prose with which Niven writes this book:
“For a long time I sit in the car outside my house, afraid to break the spell. In here, the air is close and Violet is close. I’m wrapped up in the day. I love: the way her eyes spark when we’re talking or when she’s telling me something she wants me to know, the way she mouths the words to herself when she’s reading and concentrating, the way she looks at me as if there’s only me, as if she can see past the flesh and bone and bullshit and right into the me that’s there, the one I don’t even see myself.”
(The full blog post for which can be found here).
It has come to my attention that the rights for this movie adaption have already been brought, with Elle Fanning chosen to play Violet - I can’t wait to see how it turns out. For now, let’s just all hold hands and sob our way through this beautiful book.
Anyway. Bottom line being. Pick this book up. Take a break from your life. Read it. And think about what you have read. It’s bold and beautiful, and a wonderful book for all. It reminds you about the true essence of living and life. And when the book comes out on January 8th, be sure to buy yourself a copy and for all your friends and family.