All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This review is going to be tricky because I don't want to give away spoilers. The book is described as a what-to-read next if you're a fan of 'The Fault in Our Stars' and/or 'Eleanor and Park'. I haven't read either of those titles, but I thought the concept of 'All the Bright Places' sounded fairly unique. Only slightly reminiscent of manga from the 90s, where upset characters jump from high places.
Violet is your typical girl who had a normal life until tragedy hit her family. Because of her grief, she doesn't know where she fits in anymore. She struggles with depression and a major phobia.
Finch is a misfit with a dysfunctional family. He marches to the beat of his own drummer, and most the time, enjoys being different. His zest for life comes with equal bouts of depression and fascination with death.
The two characters are thrown together by chance, forcing Finch to keep a secret for Violet. Suddenly, Finch seems to be the boy that won't go away when the two are assigned a class project together.
Overall, I feel that Niven did a really good job on Finch's character. He was a little like an unpopular Ferris Bueller with depression. Up for anything, but with a very real struggle. His character will probably stick with me for years to come.
The author's note was heartbreaking. I almost wish I'd known that Niven was inspired by true-life events before reading the book. It makes it all the more touching and tragic, and drives home the fact that kindness, awareness, and outreach are key to saving lives.
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