Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven


Finch and Violet have a meet-cute with an edge: at the top of their school’s bell tower, both thinking about jumping. Outcast and abused Finch, recently “Awake”, thinks he might rather die than fall Asleep again. Popular Violet is weary of her grief and shame after her sister’s recent death in a car accident. When they both come down from the ledge, he’s fascinated by her, and she wants to pretend the whole thing never happened. Then he volunteers her to be his partner on an Indiana history project. As they wander the countryside exploring natural springs and homemade roller coasters, they give each other something and someone to live for, proof that life can still be good. But for Finch, even that may not be enough.

In her author’s notes, Jennifer Niven says All the Bright Places was inspired by a true story and a boy she loved, which (for me) gives it an even bigger emotional punch. It’s an unflinchingly honest, but sympathetic, picture of mental illness. Being pretty unfamiliar with bipolar disorder, I had a hard time grasping what exactly Finch was dealing with until the end. While his family’s abuse and neglect was also tough to read about, these issues have needed more representation too. In contrast, I loved Violet’s healthily supportive parents. (You know I’m getting older when I admire the good parents in YA novels and want to congratulate them.)

This book and Niven herself have garnered comparisons to John Green and Rainbow Rowell, and I’d say that’s accurate. And since I’m a huge fan of both authors, that’s one of the best recommendations I can give.

Recommended for fans of: The Fault in Our Stars, road trip stories, Garden State
Also: anyone who is or loves someone struggling with mental illness, or just wants to understand it better.

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

About Brenda W.

Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister's iced tea. View all posts by Brenda W. →
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