Title- All the Bright Places
Author- Jennifer Niven
Genre(s): Young Adult
Interest Age: 15 and up.
Reader’s Annotation: Violet Markey feels she has nothing to live for, until she meets Theodore Finch who teaches her to live for something, even though he has his own demons to battle.
Violet Markey has not been the same since her sister tragically died. She doesn’t want to live anymore, and decides to climb the school water tower to end her life. While up there, she is talked out of it by Theodore Finch, the school “freak” who everyone seems to bully (even his own Dad). For Finch, thinking about suicide has been an everyday occurrence for as long as he can remember.
Their Geography teacher assigns a project in which students must pair up and visit sites of Indiana. Finch and Violet partner up, and begin to “wander” the state of Indiana and fall in love in the process. Violet begins to get better after her sister’s death with the help of Finch. As Violet begins to heal, Finch goes deeper into the darkness. He moves into his bedroom closet, gets expelled, and Violet’s parents forbid her from seeing him. She still does, by sneaking around but does not notice how bad Finch is getting. He even attempts suicide but immediately regrets it and goes to the hospital. He attends a support group, and runs into Violet’s old best friend, Amanda. Amanda eventually tells Violet about Finch’s suicide attempt, which causes a huge fight between Violet and Finch. Violet is worried and tries to get her parent’s involved, but Finch runs off. Violet does not hear from him except in the form of coded text messages that don’t make sense. After a month of this, Violet and all those who Finch knows, receive emails that are all goodbyes to them. In a panic, Violet figures out where Finch is and drives to one of the places they had “wandered” to earlier in the book. She finds his clothes, and calls the police. They later recover his body from the swimming hole. Violet begins to understand the meaning of Finch’s text messages. She creates a magazine filled with hope and begins to write again, something she wasn’t able to do after her sister’s death. It is left with the feeling that she will reach her dreams with Finch and her sister in mind.
I think sometimes in life we find something that makes an impact on our life, and one of those things for me was All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. I felt changed, for the better, after reading this book. I felt very connected with the characters, and I read this in one sitting. Now, this isn’t to mean that it was just a quick read. It was an amazing read. Finch is a character that stays with you for the long haul, and Violet is just as remarkable (see what I did there?). The subject may be a heavy one, but Jennifer handles it beautifully. I would suggest this book to anyone, especially young adults.
“By the time I was ten, I had already written numerous songs, a poem for Parker Stevenson (“If there were a Miss America for men, You would surely win”), two autobiographies (All About Me and My Life in Indiana: I Will Never Be Happy Again), a Christmas story, several picture books (which I illustrated myself) featuring the Doodle Bugs from Outer Space, a play about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s sister entitled Blindness Strikes Mary, a series of prison mysteries, a collection of short stories featuring me as the main character (an internationally famous rock star detective), and a partially finished novel about Vietnam. I was also an excellent speller from a very early age.
In 2000, I started writing full-time, and I haven’t stopped… I’ve written nine books, and when I’m not working on the tenth, I’m contributing to my web magazine, Germ, thinking up new books, and dabbling in TV. I am always writing” (About Jennifer, n.d.).
Jennifer got the inspiration for this book from a real life boy whom she was in love with and who had killed himself.
Ties to Curriculum Units: Relationships, Mental Health
How does Violet’s relationship with her parents impact her reaction to her sister’s death? And her relationship with Finch?
What other help could Finch and/or Violet looked for?
This book will be challenged because it deals with mental health and suicide. I think the author did such a great job on the subject, that I believe that it would be beneficial for teens to read. I would be prepared to speak with any patrons about the importance of mental health awareness. Niven does NOT promote suicide but in fact talks about the impact it has on all those in Finch’s life. She also discusses the help Violet and Finch can get.
About Jennifer. (n.d.) Jennifer Niven. Retrieved from http://www.jenniferniven.com/about/