All The Bright Places tells of two messed up teenagers who meet at the ledge of their high school belltower. Theodore Finch is ‘the odd boy’, Violet Markey the once popular ‘fragile girl’. Both have severe mental issues and it’s unsure who saves whom that day. These two fractured kids gradually become friends and help each other with their problems. It seems though, that some problems can’t always be solved…
Jennifer Niven has picked a very delicate subject to write about – death, suicide, depression. It’s hard to tell just how amazing she put these things into words without it being unbelievable, sappy or over the top. All The Bright Places is just so well written, so truthful and so powerful. It’s good that there is a YA book about these hard subjects that so many people have to cope with and that the writer even offers words of wisdom after the story itself is finished. I can feel that she understands the topics so well.
Finch is probably one of the best written characters ever in a YA novel. Half of the book is written from his point of view. We meet him on day six of ‘being awake’ as he calls it. It’s clear from the very start Finch has a troubled mind and a fascination for death/dying/suicide. Later on it becomes clear Finch suffers from manic depression. His life experience helps Violet cope with the recent tragic death of her older sister. I have no words for how amazing Theodore Finch is.
Although the book is a tad predictable (even reading the blurb will give you an eerie feeling) and the thing I predicted would happen, did indeed happen (I’m trying very hard not to spoil anything), it never is a bad thing, persé. Maybe it even prepares you in some ways, for what’s to come. It’s not predictable in the sense that ‘Mr X is the killer and he did it with the Chainsaw in the Kitchen’ (yes, a chainsaw. You should never play Clue with me, just saying). It’s certainly no suprise the movie rights to All The Bright Places have been sold. The film is set for a release in 2018, with Elle Fanning starring as Violet. The perfect Finch has not yet been found.
It’s not what you take, it’s what you leave
No amount of words in this review will do this amazing book and it’s terrific characters justice. This is just one of those books you have to put on your to read-pile. Maybe even ask it for Christmas this year. Just be sure to read it when you’re in a happy place, as this book will bring you down no matter what, since the main topic is just very, very heavy. Still, this is a must read for all YA-readers and anyone coping with, or having someone dear to them coping with, a (manic) depression or suicidal thoughts. Let’s end with a beautiful quote from All The Bright Places: “The thing I realize is, that it’s not what you take, it’s what you leave.”