So during a productive study leave (haha) I read this beautiful little book called All the Bright Places. And holy shit it’s amazing. I am a really avid reader and will read anything I can get my hands on, literally, and it is one of the things my parents have actively encouraged me to do as they are both keen readers themselves.
My first venture into the world of young adult was the classic The Fault in Our Stars by the literacy genius that is the wonderful John Green. Now coming from a world of Harry Potter/Twilight/The Hunger Games, the TFIOS was really refreshing for me and I am not ashamed to say I’d cried all the way through. The way he touched death and love was just so amazing and this book has since been and will always be one of my favourites. Since reading it, I have read a lot more books from this genre which touch on death and love but none of them have really shaped up to the TFIOS until I read All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.
Now this really is a beautiful book. It’s written from two points of view; Theodore Finch, a boy who is struggling with depression but falls in love with the broken Violet Markey, who is devastated by her sister’s death the April before they meet. The story starts on the school bell tower ledge where Finch saves Violet from jumping off by talking her down. This sparks a beautiful and heart-warming friendship which turns into love between them and it is such a mature book. I fell head over heels in love with Finch and you really root for their relationship but importantly the book doesn’t hide the demons of depression. Finch talks about taking his own life and suicide throughout the book and because it’s fiction, I didn’t think Finch would actually do it. But he did. And this is why this book is so important to society. The author cleverly highlights how we look at suicide and mental illness and how so many people skate over depression and don’t see it as a proper issue and don’t understand how it ruins someone’s life. This role of society is portrayed in the book by Finch’s parents and the alternative view, that Finch needed help, it is portrayed by Violet. A lot of people associate anger with suicide, the ones left behind at angry at the person who left but I never felt at Finch, I just understood why and that was what was so upsetting. The book discusses therapists, counselling sessions and help groups and does indicate their success but it is also highlights how this just isn’t enough.
I am lucky enough to not know anyone to take their own life and feeling like I know Finch, a character; it is very small in comparison. I’ve never really been exposed to mental illness before because it’s never been in my life but reading this book has really opened my eyes to it. It was so clever at showing how Finch felt and how nobody saw that he was struggling. This book I think is yet to be appreciated as ones of the greats but I would absolutely recommend reading it because if it I can show me how important it is to take mental illness seriously and not “sweep it under the rug” or “turn a blind eye”, it can do the same for so many other people. And possibly change something for somebody.
* I am aware the word “beautiful” features a lot but that is because it is the perfect word to describe this book. Read it and I’m sure you will agree*
JUST READ IT PEOPLE PLEASE! xxxx
Original Post Date: March 2015