A page from the book "All The Bright Places" by Jennifer Niven

All The Bright Places: A Review

"sometimes there’s beauty in the tough words—it’s all in how you read them.”

That might possibly be one of my favorite quotes from the book which, in my opinion, holds true for the writing in the book too. I read All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven back in 2016 when the book was at its peak in popularity. The book was one of my favorite reads ever, even to this day, and the experience I went through while reading it is something I don’t think I will ever forget. At the time, the book was a gateway into understanding and comprehending how important mental health is and the various forms they come in. The book was so impactful in so many ways. So when I heard they were making a movie adaptation to the book, I was scared to watch it! What if it did not live up to my expectations, and I was disappointed and it ruined the story for me? Nevertheless, I finally gave in and watched the movie and I have a few thoughts.

Picture of the book Original photo by Anushka Myndapanda

The story follows Violet Markey, portrayed by Elle Fanning, who is heartbroken after having recently lost her sister in a car accident. The story starts with Violet standing on a ledge of a bridge as she looks down at the water below her when we get introduced to Theodore Finch, portrayed by Justice Smith. He persuades her to get down from the ledge, and in doing so, the story begins.

We see the two of them struggle with their mental health in vastly different ways. After the accident, Violet isolates herself from her friends, and doesn’t think it is fair for her to be living while her sister is dead. Finch seems full of life most of the time, but we see him struggle sometimes when he gets into his "dark moods." At first glance, Finch doesn’t seem to be struggling, but as the story progresses, we see just how his depression affects him. The story does a good job of truly showing how people deal with depression and other mental disorders very differently. The story highlights how people can seem happy despite the darkness and depression they are enduring internally. 

While I did enjoy the movie adaptation, I still prefer the original story in the book. Jennifer Niven did a great job of making the readers understand the mental state of the two main characters, as she alternated between their point of views every chapter. Making the story concise to fit the time constraints of a movie kind of lost some of the elements of the story.

“People don’t like messy.”

That phrase is used throughout the book and movie which I think is ironic, because whether we like it or not, we are all messy in our own ways, and we need to make peace with that. You never know what people are going through behind closed doors, so be kind to one another and yourself. My takeaway: there are always going to be opinions on whether this was the most accurate portrayal of mental illness, but I would still recommend you give it a watch or if you have the time, a read. 

be kind Photo by Vie Studio from Pexels