“The story of a boy named Finch and a girl named Violet.” That’s always the basics of a love story, isn’t it. They were two separate people floating around before fate intervened and propelled them towards each other and changed their lives. This isn’t just an ordinary first love story though. This is the story of a girl finding her muse, moving on from a tragedy, and understanding what star-crossed love really is. The beauty, wonder, and a dash of magic will make the characters stick with you, long after you’ve finished.
First there’s Violet, her sister died in a car accident and she feels guilty and has thoughts of suicide, but popular girls aren’t supposed to have those thoughts. Finch is the odd kid out at their high school and is bipolar. He has up’s and down’s, tries on different personalities like they’re clothes, and is obsessed with suicide. When the two meet, you want to grind your teeth together because it’s so awkward and feels cliché, and of course it is because they’re in high school. Everything is high school is awkward, cliche, and makes you want to grind your teeth! But the story goes on and develops its own world. Finch falls for Violet, they go on small adventures, and all seems to be right with the world. When the big twist happens, your heart will bleed and you will cry. A lot.
Jennifer Niven, writing about a similar experience that took place in her life, gives an interesting perspective on teenage suicide and being left behind after someone you love takes their own lives. She gives the view of the people left to continue their lives after something horrible happened, something that had no warning. Niven did a beautiful job describing and giving depth to a topic that is often overlooked. Yes, the subject is touched on, but only when mandatory. Suicide is never fully discussed with teens. By telling this story and connecting with he young adult community, a group that can (unfortunately) easily relate, Niven is telling them that they are not alone, that people do care about them, and that help is not far away and will not inconvenience anyone. There may be someone out there who read this book and needed to know that it will all be okay.
Niven’s writing is both elegant and simple. It doesn’t dumb down anything for the young adult genre, which unfortunately happens more often than not. The story is also “in this decade,” meaning that it uses similar technology that teens use everyday in the real world, making it relatable. The story is so immersive that it makes the reader not able to put the book down for hours on end. For some stories, it takes a while to get to this point, but in All the Bright Places, it started at page one! Everything that happens to the characters, the reader feels and internalized. This story makes you want to climb into the story and hug the characters. Niven also brings the side characters to life without stealing the spotlight away from the real story, which is an art and she should get an award for. The adventures that Finch and Violet go on make you want to grab the ones you love and go on your very own quirky adventure.
This book has changed the way that I look at the world, in a positive way. I gave it 4.6 out of 5 stars because it did make me cry a lot and hate the author just a little bit. But what good book doesn’t do that.