Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Read: June 11 - 12   Verdict: 4.2 stars

"The fact is I was sick, but not in an easily explained flu kind of way. It's my experience that people are a lot more sympathetic if they can see you hurting, and for the millionth time in my life I wish for measles or smallpox or some other recognizable disease just to make it simple for me and also for them. Anything would be better than the truth." 

All the Bright Places tells the story of Theodore Finch and Violet Markey. Two teenagers who meet on the top of the school bell-tower, contemplating jumping and ending their lives. While Finch is plagued by depressesion, Violet is still mourning the death of her older sister. They become unlikely friends and allies, and as Finch brings Violet on a journey, she begins to enjoy life again. But Finch's darkness is still threatening to overcome him and Violet may not be enough.

This is a story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who wants to die.

From the get go, Finch is a completely different character than I thought he would be. I has placed him into the category of stereotypical depressive teenager - moody, probably dresses in black, shy and nerdy. But he's none of those things. Finch pops out of the pages of this book in a kaleidoscope of colour. He is expressive, excited, courageous, mysterious, adventurous. He is strong, and tall and darkly good-looking. He even has a little bit of a reputation among girls and an even bigger one in the school hallways. While people may not know what Finch looks like, everyone knows who Finch is.

I felt that the character of Finch was a beautiful way of putting it out there that depression isn't something that happens to a particular kind of person, in a particular part of society. It is something that can happen to everyone and anyone can be suffering from it...and just be really good at hiding it.

Finch's depression is told very well in that some days he is all bright rays of sunshine and ready to go and have an adventure. Other days he is overcome and can hardly even get out of bed. It completely consumes him, and his happy thoughts, in a way I found very realistic.

While I connected very well with Finch, I think in contrast to him, Violet fell rather flat for me. Beside Finch, she was nothing remarkable. Just an ordinary teenage girl, who happens to catch the eye of the school enigma. The only thing that really makes her stand out is her sadness for Eleanor and results of this loss.

While All the Bright Places tells a realistic story of depression, and clearly outlines the fact that sometimes you can't save somebody unless they really want to save themselves, I really wish I could have walked away from this book feeling a little bit happier.

All in all, a well-written novel with meaningful, real characters that tell a story that needs to be heard. And brings to light an issue that is becoming a huge problem and is one people need to start feeling okay to talk about. Getting help for any problems, mental or physical, is always an option and is never a problem. It's the best thing you can do.

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