‘All The Bright Places’ by Jennifer Niven follows two students as they deal with themes of grief, depression and isolation. Meeting on the ledge of the bell tower, Finch and Violet find their lives coming together with a school project and their desire to help each other.
I devoured the book in a day, getting really engrossed in the story, however, when I was finished I had trouble decided whether or not I actually liked the book. It was well written, with distinctive characters and excellent pacing. But I had trouble.
I think my main problem was with Finch’s character. While I enjoyed Violet and felt that I could relate to her and found myself invested in her story, Finch was a different matter. Somehow, I could not quite understand him. His antics at the school were difficult to believe and his family were infuriating, and a little ridiculous. His sudden obsession with Violet did disturb me a little as well.
I also found the novel’s plot to be a little odd. It seemed to be created out of two parts – the first was the friendship and romance between the two, the second was a kind of treasure hunt that, while incredibly effective, seemed a little tacked on the end. I also found the it to be a bit predictable – I knew what would happen as soon as I read the blurb.
Despite these issues, I did enjoy the book. It was written in a fun style with distinct character voices. I found Violet to be realistic and her story was emotional and effecting. It was a quirky novel which, despite the difficult themes, is fun to read, bringing these themes to a wider audience in a way they will understand. I do recommend reading it, especially if you are interested in mental health.