Jennifer Niven’s YA novel All the Bright Places sheds light on some serious issues.
Summary: Couples often have strange circumstances that bring them together, but for Violet and Theodore Finch, it’s a bell tower at their school that unites them. Both of them are there for the same reason—to commit suicide. When Finch sees Violet leaning over the edge, though, he knows that he has to save her. From there their relationship starts to grow. Finch learns about the car accident that killed Violet’s sister (leaving Violet with survivor’s guilt). Violent learns about Finch’s depression and his struggle at home with an abusive father. Together they start to journey through Indiana in search of the beauties and motivation to stay alive. As they become closer, school, their old friends, and their old interests start to fall to the wayside until one night sends their parents into a scared frenzy. The parents keep Violet and Finch apart, which only leads to a devastating end for Finch.
Review: Jennifer Niven has written many adult novels, which provides her with a perfect foundation to take on the YA themes she has throughout All the Bright Places. She writes about incredibly delicate and precarious incidents, and she does it without ever talking down to the reader through her characters and plot turns. The relationship between Finch and Violet grows organically and believably, which engages the reader and keeps them on the edge of occurrences. With switching points of view, Niven offers an insight into two different minds struggling with a similar dissatisfaction. The writing is tight, imaginative when needed, and purposeful to the plot.
Bottom Line: Nothing but sunshine for Niven’s YA debut novel.
Audience: If you liked Go Ask Alice (anonymous) or Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher) then you will be intimately intrigued with All the Bright Places.