All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – Book Review

 

Rating: 5/5

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.”

My Review

Where do I begin?  How do I explain just how much I loved this book!  When I finished this book I was in such an emotional place that I wanted to just hold it and hug it close and then go back to some of the passages that I love so much because it is written so beautifully and made me laugh and cry and fall in love with these two broken souls who come from such vastly different school social groups yet find each other and discover new ways of approaching life because they bring out the bright places in each other.  Unfortunately, I read it as an e-book so now I have to buy a physical copy so I can just hold it, hug it close, and re-read the passages that I love so much!

Violet Markey and Theodore Finch are 17 year old students in Indiana who wouldn’t naturally socialize with each other.  It is a moment-in-time that brings them together and ultimately changes the course of their lives.  Theodore, or Theo, is on the ledge of the school bell tower contemplating jumping when he notices a female student on the ledge a few feet away.  He is able to talk her off the ledge and able to twist the story and make it look like she saved him instead of the other way around.  And that is how Violet Markey meets Theo Finch and becomes the school hero who saved the school freak from killing himself.

Theo and Violet have a class together and Finch finagles a way to partner with Violet for a class project that would require them to travel around the state discovering natural wonders and landmarks. It is this interaction that helps to slowly unfold for the reader and both characters their flaws, fears, and broken pasts and results in the two of them building each other up and trying to help each other heal.

The story is told in first person and the chapters alternate between Theo and Violet.  I thought the author did a remarkable job of creating two vulnerable characters whose pain feels so real.  They are truly likable and relatable.  I laughed and cried with them.  They were fleshed out into two of my favorite literary characters.  I felt like I knew them personally.  I was completely invested in their lives.  This ranks up there with one my favorite books read this year and any year.

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