Sunday, January 4, 2015

Light and Dark: All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Knopf, Expected Release Date: January 6, 2015

*e-galley provided by the publisher via NetGalley - thank you! This in no way impacts my opinions on this book.*

It's hardly a traditional place for the seeds of a connection to be planted between two incredibly different people, but something clicks with Theodore Finch and Violet Markey when they meet on the ledge of the school's bell tower, both of them contemplating ending their lives. Finch has always been labeled a freak, is always changing who he is to cope, and he can never be still. He can go weeks at a time feeling like he's not awake, with high highs and low lows. Violet used to have a pretty normal life by anyone's standards until the car accident that killed her older sister last year. Ever since, she's been hiding behind Eleanor's old glasses and excuses. But that day on the tower, Finch and Violet save each other and from there they embark on a class project and a relationship that takes them to all the bright places, but will that light be enough to truly save them from the dark they both live with?

The first word that comes to mind when describing this book is brave. In her YA debut, Niven makes a lot of brave choices. She ventures into territory that thankfully is becoming less taboo for discussion but is still something that we don't see a whole lot of. This is not your "average" book about suicide or depression. In a lot of ways, it is about survival and what it means to be a survivor. It's about tough and terrible choices, and it's about how we respond.

Told from both Finch's and Violet's points of view, it's fascinating to see how they each see the world, themselves, and each other. They each handle the tumultuous feelings they face in very different ways, in some ways bringing out the best in each other. There were a few moments when I maybe found a line cheesy, but not more than a handful in the course of the whole book. This novel is being compared to The Fault in Our Stars and in some ways, I can see that. I have little doubt that teen readers of that book will be similarly effected by this one.

This review is purposely vague because I'd hate for anything about this book to be spoiled, so I will just end with that I found this to be a powerful and thought provoking book, and when it arrives in my library I will absolutely be recommending it to students and staff.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading.

Jennifer Niven's Website
Jennifer Niven on Twitter

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