“All The Bright Places” is a young adult novel written by Jennifer Niven. It’s a first person narrative from the perspective of teenagers, Theodore Finch and Violet Markey. I’ll avoid any direct spoilers because this is truly a great book. Just know, this article talks about sensitive content and mental illness.
Theodore Finch (known as Finch throughout the book), is grappling with Bipolar Disorder and his family is not entirely supportive and understanding. Finch confides in his new friend and love interest, Violet. Violet is battling demons of her own, trying her best to be a shoulder for Finch to lean on. On his good days, Finch is “awake” and on his bad days, he is “asleep”. As the book goes on, however, readers empathize with him and his internal struggle to stay awake.
Through twists and turns, readers have no choice but to fall in love with the book characters and their dynamic personalities. To make a long book review short, I loved this book. There are not often times where a book makes me cry. However, during my time reading “All the Bright Places”, the pages were wet with my tears. I couldn’t help but feel for the characters and their battles.
As for the movie, it was really good, but not great. The Netflix trailer made it seem like a cheesy love story. The truth is, it is far from that. I don’t think Netflix had empathy for viewers potentially struggling with mental illness. The least they could do is add a trigger warning. The content can be disturbing, especially to viewers who can relate to the content within the movie.
Time and time again, I would choose the book over the movie. The book jumps between the perspective of Violet and Finch, while the movie doesn’t allow viewers to see the character’s inner thoughts and feelings. The movie also felt quite rushed. As far as the cast, Justice Smith and Elle Fanning had a natural chemistry and worked extremely well in portraying their characters.
When someone produces a book or a movie based on mental illness, they must do so with caution. It is a great challenge to balance entertainment and sensitivity. This is why many fail. The movie “Split” was a terrible representation of Dissociation Personality Disorders. “Thirteen Reasons Why” glamorized suicide. In the case of “All The Bright Places”, I truly believe both the film and the book tackled the subject of mental illness without using it strictly for entertainment purposes. There were flaws of course, but overall, I think the book is a raw depiction of what it’s like living with mental illness and also loving someone with a mental illness.
Overall, I give the book a 9/10 (-1 for the hole it left in my heart) and the book a 6/10 (Netflix should enforce a trigger warning for sensitive content, the movie was rushed and didn’t encompass the same emotions as the book). If you have about an hour, watch the movie, but if you’re looking for an emotional roller coaster, put “All The Bright Places” on your reading list this fall, you won’t regret it.