All The Bright Places
Written by Jennifer Niven
Expected Publication January 7th 2015
Thank you to Penguin Books Australia
The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this compelling, exhilarating, and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.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.
Theodore Finch has always been defined by a label. He's the strange one, the freak, the boy that marches to the beat of his own drum. His father couldn't stand his own family, so replaced them with a newer version and his mother is absent even when she's in the same room. Finch knows what it's like to feel the darkness creeping in, smothering your hope, your thoughts, until the day comes when you decide to Sleep. But standing on top of the Bell Tower at school and contemplating the end, he never expected to find Violet Markey fighting her own despair.
Violet lives in a world of false smiles and broken dreams, since the tragic death of her sister. Formerly dating the all American high school athlete, pretty as she is popular. But her world shattered the day she woke up in the hospital without her best friend, the surviving daughter that struggles to find the will to live.
What begins as a school project to explore Indiana, turns into a tentative friendship. The two begin to Wander, leaving a piece of themselves behind at every location. The laughter, the tears and sadness, the two teens are simply chasing that one perfect day.
All The Bright Places is the most remarkable, tender and poignant young adult novel that you'll ever have the privilege of reading. Told from two different perspectives in Finch and Violet, the two teens understand a deep depression that most if us couldn't fathom, and at such a tender age. Violet has lost her sister in a tragic road accident in which she survived, but her grief is merely absorbed and she feels incredibly lonely. Her parents expect her to start maintaining a 'normal' life, although through their own despair, refuse to talk about their loss.
Finch hasn't experienced loss, but physical abuse at the hands of his father, his mother neglects her children and is bullied, beaten and broken each day at school. His thoughts are of the options he has to take his own life, but has never taken the next step. He is crying out for help in a home that ignores his pleas and a school system which sees his troubled behaviour as worthy of threats and punishment. Until he meets Violet.
Their adventures, chasing the beauty of Indiana and leaving a part of themselves behind was whimsical, spirited and carefree. But behind the joy and laughter was an underlying sadness, a darkness that returns when the brightness of day can no longer hide our inner thoughts. Neither Finch or Violet were understood, a cry for help simply being labelled as sadness or an excuse, when even in our own communities metal illnesses isn't always recognised or acknowledged.
I'm the freak. I'm the weirdo. I'm the troublemaker. I start fights. I let people down. Don't make Finch mad, whatever you do. Oh, there he goes again, in one of his moods. Moody Finch. Angry Finch. Unpredictable Finch. Crazy Finch. But I'm not a compilation of symptoms. Not a causality of shitty parents and an even shittier chemical makeup. Not a problem. Not a diagnosis. Not an illness. Not something to be rescued. I'm a person.
The prose throughout was lyrical and incredibly beautiful, even quoting passages of Virginia Woolf. This surpasses any novel John Green or Rainbow Rowell could have created. Jennifer Niven is a phenomenal storyteller, a breathtaking author and this could quite possibly be the story of a generation.