All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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About the Book

Title: All the Bright Places

Author: Jennifer Niven

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Young Adult, Contemporary

Publisher: Ember

Publication Date: September, 2016

Pages: 416, Paperback


I saw a blurb of All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, touting it as the next TFIOS (The Fault In Our Stars). Of course, I was intrigued by this because that book was such a tearjerker! I should probably reread this. So, I picked it up to see what it was all about. 



The story follows two protagonists, Theodore Finch and Violet Markey; one is fascinated by death and is always thinking of how to commit suicide, and the other, grieving deeply and looking forward to escaping her small town after graduation. 


The two meet on a ledge of their school’s bell tower under what seems like similar circumstances to commit suicide. However, it is hard to say who saved whom at that instance. And when they start working on the class project together to discover their hometown, their lives take a turn. For Violet, grieving her sister’s sudden death and moving on with life becomes more manageable. Sadly, Finch’s life shrinks despite his attempts to keep fighting. 


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My Thoughts 

First things first. While I cried some parts towards the end of the book, it can honestly not match John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars. Whew! I read that book ages ago, but it still feels like a recent heartbreak. 


But Jennifer Niven came close to delivering that, at least for me. The author has a way with words that makes it feel like the characters are real, not fictional. One can relate to these characters, from Finch’s attempts and thoughts about suicide to Violet’s grief and changes in how she views life and her previous relationships. 


I have seen some critique that the characters became their illness, and it romanticizes suicide. But I can’t entirely agree. I believe the author did a nice job describing Finch’s struggle. It is a new school year; he is willing to put his head down despite the bullying, and when Violet comes into his life, he has the hope to keep living. Of course, the bullying did not stop, and given the description of his mental health, that’s not something that could be washed away instantly. Plus, he worked hard to ensure his family and friends believed he was okay. Should they have paid more attention and not assumed it is his nature to act out and disappear? Of course. Then again, we have seen cases of people who seem okay, only to die by suicide hours later. 


That said, I also believe the author could have done a better job in some instances. For example, how the school counsellor kind of downplayed Finch’s illness. Finch’s family involvement in his life, like his mother, was practically unavailable or concerned, even when Violet and her parents were very concerned with his disappearance. His father was just abusive. Not forgetting the body and slut shaming. Plus, there is only one black character in the book, and his description at first had me cringing. 


All in all, I quite enjoyed this book. It has a lot of triggers on mental health, though. If you can handle that, it would make for a quick read. 


But, please, steer clear of the adaptation! I thought it was terrible. 


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My ★ Rating 4.0

Goodreads ★ Rating 4.1 (as of August 2022)

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