All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven


“The problem with people is they forget that most of the time it’s the small things that count.”

Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Why you should read this book: I don’t know why you should read this. It has a strong theme, you need to be prepared for it. If you are prepared then you really should read this book.

Summary from Goodreads:

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 do my best thinking at night when everyone else is sleeping. No interruptions. No noise. I like the feeling of being awake when no one else is.”

Maybe this review got too personal, forgive me. I don’t think there are spoilers.

I don’t know how to review this book. I liked it even if some parts were hard to read. The bullying always gives me a hard time with books, movies and real life. I can’t seem to cope with that kind of behaviour and it makes me so mad. I don’t understand and will never understand how someone ends up thinking bullying is fun and fine.

I’m giving this 4 stars because it spoke to me. I didn’t think someone could think the way I think in a book, it surprised me. I relate maybe to too many things and it scared the hell out of me. At some point I just closed the book and started staring at nothing in complete silence. I could hear my heart beating in my throat, my head, and my ears. Then I decided to eat something because that’s always the right remedy to overthinking. It worked, as I knew it would.

Theodore Finch wants to die, he doesn’t want to give himself a label but he can’t deny that he is sick. He doesn’t want to get help; he thinks he can do everything by himself. Theodore Finch lies to himself and to everyone around him. Theodore Finch is like me. No, even if a few times I have thought about everyone’s life without me, I don’t want to die. My mind is full of catastrophic thoughts that make me want to isolate myself from the world, that’s true, I am one with my fears and sadness and there’s only one person that can save me and that’s me. I’m working on that, every single day.

Violet is miserable and in mourning. Her sister died and she blames herself. She is trying to live her life miserably like she is punishing herself. She needs to really talk to someone but opening up is the hardest first step one can make, a first step a lot of people who needs help don’t make. It’s just like “Challenger Deep”, a book I loved with all my heart, in which the main character says that mental illness is not easy to identify neither from the victim’s pov nor from the people around the victim’s pov until, unfortunately, it’s too late. I like to think that it may be hard but not impossible. But boy, if it’s hard.

Violet meets Finch and their encounter helps them both. Not in the miraculous “my illness was just temporary, I am a happy person now” kind of way, but in a “life no matter how short is better with you in it” kind of way. That part I liked the most. Finch is not delusional but I think he needed someone in his family to notice something was not right. He, thinking about how horrible having a label like “bipolar” was worst that not being alive, was hard to digest. His family has the most unreliable people on the planet as members. Your son disappears all the time, he changes appearance and behaviour every single week, he doesn’t look his best, and you don’t ask yourself if there is something wrong? If you can help him a little bit? People are so blind when there is something uncomfortable on the table in front of them.

“All I know is what I wonder: Which of my feelings are real? Which of the mes is me? There is only one me I’ve ever really liked, and he was good and awake as long as he could be.”

This book hits too close to home. By home I mean my soul, my fighter soul, my Viking soul, my smiling face that sometimes hides a fragility that the world doesn’t need to see. I get the help that I need watching the people I love being happy. I get strength reading books people love and that I think I can love too and can discuss with them. I get my smile sharing my everyday life with people who appreciate and respect my need for space, the need to stay home, to not want to do things out of laziness, the pleasure to just sit down and do nothing.

Finch doesn’t have the kind of surroundings that could help him getting to cohabitate with his illness in his everyday life. Finch needed people to notice him but his family was never there, his friends didn’t watch him close enough to see the fractures of the masks he wore to face the world. Finch started getting his strength from Violet when it was too late, in my opinion, and the mechanism of his life was already failing to a point that it couldn’t be repaired anymore.

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”

This book might be important or it might annoy you. It all depends on how your heart is when you start reading it. I may not remember very well how does it feel to be a teenager but I know how little sometimes one can feel standing and trying to live in this big scary world.

Do I recommend it? Of course.
Rate: 4/5


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