written by Saturday bookseller, Ellie
All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Genre: Young Adult
'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 a brilliant contemporary novel that is now one of my all-time favourites. It is the story of Violet Markey – a quiet girl on the edge of the popular group whose perception of life changed after the death of her older sister – and Theodore Finch, a misfit who is constantly thinking about death and ways to kill himself. But this isn't your classic boy meets girl: they meet atop the bell tower with Violet about to attempt suicide. The majority of the story follows Finch and Violet as they work together on a project; finding wonders in the local area.
The story is told through Finch and Violet's interweaving perspectives. A story full of unique quirks and endearing, detailed characters, yet it still has a basis in real life, with more than one shocking moment and a painful, but beautiful, ending.
I read All the Bright Places in two days flat, hardly even putting it down to eat or sleep. The story is so compelling and wacky it just made me wish I could pack my bags and go find some of the brilliant places Theodore and Violet visit, from riding a homemade roller coaster to climbing a tiny mountain. All the Bright Places seems to be such a happy, uplifting book, appearing to give two lost souls a new lease of life. However, Niven's harsh but necessary lesson seems to be that whist both Theodore and Violet appear to be on the same journey, one is reviving themselves whilst the other is only creating their legacy to leave behind, and whilst you think that they're helping each other, it is not that simple.
All the Bright Places is absolutely worth the read, filled with marvellous quotes and essential life lessons, no one could read this and not take something inspirational away. The novel is an emotional read, for sure, and all the way through we feel as though we’re hurtling toward a less-than-happy ending. But Niven’s brilliant writing weaves joy and whimsy throughout. One thing about this book I know for absolute certain is that after reading it, you wont stop thinking about it for days.