All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

18460392Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Pages: 383
Year: 2015
Publisher: Knopf (Penguin Random House)
Time taken to read: 3 days
Rating: 4/5

Goodreads synopsisTheodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death. When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

I added this book to my to-read list after reading a couple of blog posts about the top five books that deal with mental illness. Funny story: on Thursday I had a job interview for a Barnes & Noble café in Center City, and the interviewer asked me what kinds of books I like. I said Harry Potter, duh, and also YA books that deal with mental health. She asked me if I had read All the Bright Places, and I said, “Literally, I have it on hold at the library right now, and I’m picking it up on my way home from this interview.” (Also, I got the job.)

First, as I’ve said before, I hate hate hate books that switch perspective. Sometimes it works, but 99% of the time it just confuses me and I think I’m reading from the POV of one character when it’s really the other, and that was unfortunately the case with this book. (I wonder, do other people feel that way about switching perspectives, or is it just me?) I also dislike books that suggest that your high school girlfriend or boyfriend can save you from your mental illness. However, in the end, this book does not actually suggest that, which redeemed it in my eyes. (Because this book came out fairly recently, I won’t spoil it.) There were a lot of parts that I felt were unrealistic, like falling asleep on top of a f**king tower. First of all, I can’t imagine it’s actually that easy for people to get up to the top. So many safety hazards, obviously. Second, I personally would be crying sitting on top of that tower because I do not like heights, and I can’t imagine that anyone is comfortable enough with heights to accidentally fall asleep up there. Little things like that tend to really bother me, even though it’s not like it’s physically impossible.

I gave this 4 stars because, as you can see, I read it rather quickly, as I was dying (ha ha) to know what happens at the end, and I was not disappointed. Honestly, the ending was pretty phenomenal. I was really afraid that the author was going to wimp out and give us a really soft, lame ending, but that is not the case, and it’s very good. Also, I thought most of the characters really stood out to me, even the minor ones. I could really feel all their personalities. That being said, I didn’t like Finch. I thought he was kind of rude, especially to Violet, and I understand that a lot of his “negative” personality traits come from his mental illness and are not his fault, but there were a lot of things about him, maybe just a certain vibe that I got that was separate from his disorder that made me dislike him. It can be hard to say what does and does not come from his disorder, so I will leave it at that.

To all my readers, have a lovely Sunday and a lovely week.

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