Read this if: You love a good love story
High school. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. We’ve heard it all before. But never quite like this. I finished All the Bright Places in one sitting, and twenty-four hours later I am still reeling. Every once in a while, you read a book that mirrors that dark place of your soul, and finds a place in your heart forever. Jennifer Niven’s eighth book and first young adult novel has done that for me.
Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet atop the school bell tower, both standing on its ledge; neither is sure what they’re doing there. Violet’s sister died in a car accident; Finch thinks about death often, but neither wants to die. Through this shared experience, and through Finch’s goofball persistence, they fall in love.
And oh, what a love story…. All the Bright Places had me physically jumping up and down at the awesomeness of Finch and Violets love. But more than that, this book worked itself into the fabric of who I am forever for this one simple reason: its honest portrayal of mental illness, and depression in particular. Chronic or major depression is as part of who I am as my brown eyes or my knack for walking into things. Reading about characters who are going through what I go through, who get me better than anyone I’ve encountered in real life, has been more cathartic than any therapy session. My only regret is that this gem wasn’t around when I was a teenager and felt so helpless and alone.
Niven’s young adult debut will make you laugh, it will make you cry. You will be annoyed with the protagonists and you will cheer them on like they’re your best friends. All the Bright Places is lovely. You should read it.