*This is a SPOILER-FREE book review*
I’ll admit it, I’m guilty of buying or being gifted books and then letting them sit unread on my nightstand. “I’ll read it later,” or “Next time I go to the beach, I’ll bring a book with me,” were the common excuses. Because of this, one of the New Year’s Resolutions I made this year was to read at least one book every month. Of my stack of neglected books, January’s read was All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.
I bought this book at the recommendation of a friend, who initially described it to me as “heartbreaking”. And it did just that.
All the Bright Places introduces two high school seniors, Finch and Violet, while they are standing at the edge of their school’s bell tower. Finch is the school “freak” and Violet is the girl-next-door that has an in with the popular kids. Both have past traumas they are trying to heal from, and are dealing with the uncertainty of each new day. This book deals with mental health issues, specifically teen suicide and bullying. Niven includes an author’s note post-ending that provides links and phone numbers to mental health help organizations.
What can make or break a book for me is the author’s ability to illustrate a scene that calls on the reader to use their five senses to vividly see the full picture. Niven immerses the reader into small-town life in Indiana, with Finch and Violet as their guide. You can feel the intensity of Finch’s emotions as each day passes, and I admired Violet’s resilience throughout the novel. Fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything will find this an enjoyable read.
In addition to writing the book, Niven wrote the screenplay for the upcoming movie adaptation. All the Bright Places, starring Elle Fanning and Justice Smith, premieres on Netflix on February 27.