All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven


‘Is today a good day to die?’

I loved this book. I though it was a really honest portrayal of depression. It is complex and relatable at the same time and delivers some really empowering messages.

Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school. Violet is contemplating jumping off. Finch talks her down. But his “freak” label makes everyone at school assume it was him attempting to jump and that Violet is the hero. Finch and Violet are now bound by the secret of what actually happened.

The pair are then put together for a geography project – Wander Indiana – which requires them to visit interesting places in their home state. Their trip turns out to be a journey of self-discovery.

Finch comes from a fractured family. He is bullied at school. He’s a misfit. He constantly thinks about death and ways to kill himself. But he is also sensitive and intelligent but he doesn’t let people see that side of him. He is spontaneous, rebellious and eccentric and plays up to his weirdo image.

Violet is more quiet, reserved and sombre. She is drifting on the edge of the popular crowd. Her perception of life and what matters changes after the death of her sister.

Both characters have unique quirks and are endearing and detailed. They both seem so real.

Over time, the pair’s friendship develops into romance but it is not cheesy or trashy like you sometimes get in young adult novels. It’s believable.

The book obviously focuses on depression through the interweaving narratives of both Violet, who is suffering from depression and grief over the death of her sister, and Finch, who experiences a totally different kind of depression and goes through periods of feeling like he is asleep.

I liked how the book made a point about the hypocricy of people after someone dies. How people who bullied someone relentlessly throughout their life is suddenly professing how much they loved them and will miss them when they are dead.

It is a very emotional read. I really don’t want to spoil the story for anyone because you really should experience it yourself but this is one of the best young adult novels I have read in a long time. So much better than The Fault In Our Stars. The characters are real. The depression is described perfectly – if you have ever suffered depression you will recognise the thoughts and emotions the characters have. Their relationship is totally believable. There is a dark side to this book as well, the characters have their demons and issues that they need to deal with, but there is humour there too. It is a sad story but it has hope. It’s a story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who wants to die and it’s a book with an important message. I would thoroughly recommend this book to everyone.


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