Review: All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Title: All The Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Genre: YA Contemporary
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 388
Publisher: Penguin
Source: My local Waterstones 

'The story of a girl who learns to live from a boy who wants to die.'

Goodreads Summary:
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it's unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the 'natural wonders' of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It's only with Violet that Finch can be himself - a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who's not such a freak after all. And it's only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink.

I first heard about ATBP whilst watching Sarah Churchill, a well known book vlogger on her youtube channel. She had received an ARC, and as soon as she started talking about the plot, I was completely hooked. I added it to my wishlist and anxiously awaited the release date. As soon as I saw it in my local Waterstones I snapped it up, and added it to my huge TBR shelves. Because I use a TBR jar, I don't always have full control over what I'm reading, so admittedly, it took me a while to get round to it. But eventually I did (with a bit of a push from Chelley) and I'm so glad I read it!

'In this house there's no such thing as sick unless you can measure it with a thermometer under the tongue.'
This book seriously threatened to break my heart.
I fell for Finch straightaway. He has such an effortless charm that really radiated off the page. He's so obviously broken, yet still so loveable. Watching him deteriorate was so painful. I felt so attached to him, it felt as though I was living through everything next to him.

'I, Theodore Finch, being of unsound mind..'
To start with, I found connecting to Violet difficult. She felt boring and uninteresting. Yet as her story unfolds and her connection with Finch deepens, I started to appreciate her more as she opens up and her character develops.

To start with we are listener to two stories- The story of Theodore Finch battling through The Awake and The Asleep; as well as Violet Markey's story as she comes to terms with her sister's death. Yet later, there is a third story. The story of two broken individuals finding love, and piece by piece, finding themselves.

'The great thing about this life of ours is that you can be someone different to everybody.'

The two voices of Violet and Finch are so poignant and raw, I found it so hard to leave the book- in the most cliché way I felt id become part of the story, and leaving it became more and more difficult. 

I'd be lying if I said this book didn't touch me. It's a beautiful exploration of the impact of mental health. In no way does it celebrate or 'romanticise' mental illness. instead it shows a true and honest picture of what it is like.

'It's only when I'm awake that I think about dying.'

Jennifer handles the sensitive subject of the unravelling of mental health so well. Though she illustrates how severe and painful it can be, All The Bright Places sends a hopeful message to sufferers out there- even the most 'dysfunctional' people can have Perfect Days, explore the world through Wandering, and how even the most 'broken' can complete the one they love most.

In a world where 1 in 4 will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives, this book is hugely relevant to us as a generation. Books like All The Bright Places play a huge role in lessening the stigma around mental illness and such topics. For that, I thank you, Jennifer.
'You are all the colours in one, at full brightness.'

5/5 Stars.

Buy the book here.

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