All the Bright Places
By Jennifer Niven
I’m still walking around in a daze since turning the last page on this one. My emotions are just wrecked. I used to shy away from YA books because I felt they were all bubble gum, angsty teenage love stories. But man, some of them dive headfirst into some heavy topics and take your heart with them.
Theodore Finch, Finch or Freak, as many of his classmates call him, is standing on the high school’s bell tower. He is contemplating whether today is a good day to die. It’s something he does quite regularly. Then he realizes he is not alone on his ledge. Violet Markey is, or was, one of the popular girls. She was a cheerleader, she was dating “Mr. Handsome,” and she was running her own website. But life changed for Violet a year ago, and now she doesn’t know how to live. Today she’s standing on the ledge with the Freak, Finch.
Finch helps Violet down from the ledge that day, although the world sees it differently. Surely Violet must be the one helping messed up Finch. Finch in all his “finchness,” (which will just endear him to you) coerces Violet to do a school project with him. In their wanderings, Finch helps Violet see life differently. As Violet begins to realize she wants to live, and experience life with Finch; Finch is going under.
This book deals with the very serious issue of suicide. It deals with how kids can be cruel with their bullying, how families can be oblivious to their own children’s pain, and how an individual can disguise their anguish and torment from the world. Finch’s character is written so well. He’s smart, funny, and creative. He’s the one the jocks beat up, the one his dad hits, and yet Finch thinks about how to make Violet feel special, to give her spring in winter.
Finch is just trying to stay awake, to stay alive. We get to hear his inner dark, drowning thoughts. This project seems to give Finch something to focus on, and Violet gives him something to stay for – but will it be enough?
✨Make sure you read the author’s notes and acknowledgments as she gives very good information on suicide, bullying, and abuse.