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All the Bright Places Hardcover – January 6, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Violet Markey is on the ledge of her school's bell tower, six stories up, and frozen in terror. Theodore Finch, the Freak, stands on the ledge nearby. Before she can panic, he calms her down and gets her back on solid ground. He even lets everyone think she's the one who talked him out of jumping. Violet, until recently, was a popular cheerleader and Finch has a well-earned reputation for being manic, violent, and unpredictable. But Finch won't let their encounter rest. He's suddenly everywhere Violet goes and even signs her up as his partner on a "Wander the State" school project. As the two drive around Indiana, Violet begins to see the lame tourist attractions through Finch's eyes, and each spot becomes something unique and special. He pushes and challenges the protagonist, and seems to understand the effect her sister's death made on her. But though Violet begins to recover from the devastating grief that has cocooned her for almost a year, Finch's demons refuse to let go. The writing in this heartrending novel is fluid, despite the difficult topics, as Niven relays the complex thought processes of the two teens. Finch and Violet, with their emotional turmoil and insecurities, will ring true to teens. Finch in particular will linger in readers' minds long after the last page is turned. Give this to fans of Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park (St. Martin's Pr., 2013), John Green's The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton, 2012), or Jennifer Hubbard's The Secret Year (Viking, 2010).—Heather Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, AL
“At the heart – a big one – of “All the Bright Places” lies a charming love story about this unlikely and endearing pair of broken teenagers.”
— New York Times Book Review
“…this heartbreaking love story about two funny, fragile, and wildly damaged high school kids named Violet and Finch is worth reading. Niven is a skillful storyteller who never patronizes her characters – or her audience.”
— Entertainment Weekly
“Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"In her YA debut, adult author Niven creates a romance so fresh and funny. . . The journey to, through, and past tragedy is romantic and heartbreaking, as characters and readers confront darkness, joy, and the possibilities—and limits—of love in the face of mental illness.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“The writing in this heartrending novel is fluid, despite the difficult topics… Finch in particular will linger in readers’ minds long after the last page is turned.”
—School Library Journal, starred review
"Ultimately, the book, with narration that alternates between Finch and Violet, becomes Violet’s story of survival and recovery, affirming the value of loving deeply, grieving openly, and carrying your light forward."
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Have The Fault in Our Stars withdrawal? Pick up this heartrending novel about a girl who vows to live with purpose after bonding with a boy who plans to end his own life.”
— SELF Magazine
"It’s touching, vibrant, and an impressively honest depiction of depression."
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2015
A Miami Herald Best Books for Children 2015
GoodReads Choice Awards 2015 Young Adult Fiction Category Winner
A TIME Top Young Adult Book of 2015
A NPR 2015 Guide to Great Reads Book
Top customer reviews
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Really good overall story and genuine characters with great development. Finch grows a lot on me and Violet does a bit, too, but not really until the end. Read this book and I promise it will change the way you look at things and people and mental illness. It is no joke and Jennifer Niven does a really great job at proving this.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children's for the opportunity to read and review All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. All the Bright Places cannot be described with one word. This book is tremendous in heartbreak, coping skills, love, loss and grabbing life and enjoying it while you can! The best line of the book is on page 23, "Some people hate him because they think he's weird and he gets into fights and gets kicked out of school and does what he wants. Some people worship him because he's weird and he gets into fights and gets kicked out of school and does what he wants." This statement sums up the reputation of Theodore Finch. Finch is a mystery to everyone. Finch and Violet share the narrative through alternating points of view. Finch struggles with depression and Violet suffers from survivor's guilt. Violet's sister died in a car accident not long before the story begins. The awkwardness and humor between Finch and Violet pulled me into the story and made me love both of their characters! When the two were paired together for a class project, their lives intermingled in many ways and they helped each other grow and enjoy life. All the Bright Places is a beautiful story of loss, love and what comes after. I appreciate that the author approached the stigma of needing help and the people we all know as fakers. The author's notes were soul bearing for her and she discussed difficult topics that tend to be overlooked in our society; way to face the tough parts of human nature! 5 stars for this highly recommended book.
Where do I start? For all the reviewers who say this book is a rip-off of The Fault In Our Stars, I can understand the sentiment, but I disagree. It's a book about teenagers dealing with death and finding each other in the midst of their pain. That is where the similarities end to me. The two main characters are intelligent teenagers in the information age, so they can Google quotes and full passages of books. They are not pretentious SAT-vocab-using teenagers. These characters were so much more relatable to me than Hazel and Augustus.
Violet is recovering from the death of her sister, a death she blames herself for since she directed her to the bridge where the accident occurred. She gets out of doing most school work due to the "extenuating circumstances". She appears fragile and is not expected to participate in life until we meet her. Her parents are just now trying to get her to begin to participate again. She is doing so unwillingly until she meets Theodore Finch.
Finch is different, but he doesn't know why. He used to be friends with the bullies, but as you grow up and the differences begin to separate you from the pack, they no longer can relate to him, and what is different must also be wrong. They call him a freak and he lives up to the name. Constantly trying on new identities to see which one fits, Finch focuses on death (suicide in particular) as a means to control his day to day living situation. While Violet's parents are involed (but trying to let her live her own life), Finch's parents were horrible people. He took the brunt of the abuse from his father growing up, and yet still can't get over the fact that his father left his family to create a new one. His mom has shut down and notices nothing around her while his older sister is his parental proxy at school. His younger sister is largely ignored and trying to make sense of the world where it seems like only bad things occur.
These two characters meet at a pivotal moment in their lives. Theo attaches himself to Violet and she can't shake him, despite all her efforts. He knows all too well how she is feeling, and takes responsibility of her rejoining the living. It gets to the point where finally Violet doesn't want to shake him. And then, maybe she starts to have real feelings for him. They begin to "wander" their state together, exploring the interesting and the unusual.
I kept hoping for a happily ever after, where he saves her and she saves him right back, but real life isn't always that neat and pretty. Depression is common in teens, and so many times it is chocked up to hormones and high school. I think the author does a good job in representing the different teenagers found in school, and put even the secondary characters to good use in the story. This is not a book that you can read and remain dry-eyed. It is an important story to tell, and it is geared towards the audience that most needs it.
The teenage angst got on my nerves a lot. The one redeeming quality was Violet and her parents. I really liked them. Finch’s parents could well...take a flying leap.
While this was far from a favorite read of mine, I feel the storyline is important and one teenagers should read.