Publishing Info: January 6, 2015 by Random House Publishing Group
Genres: Contemporary, Psych/Mental Health, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 9, 2015
Theodore 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.
If there’s anything you need to know about ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES, it’s that it’s a book that will stick with you long after you’ve finished reading. I actually didn’t get around to writing my review until about a month after I finished reading and yet all of the emotions I felt as I was reading quickly came flooding back to me once I began to reflect on the book once more.
The tagline for ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES describes it as a mashup of The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor & Park and while I see elements of both and feel like it’s a lot to compare a new release to these two giant names in contemporary, I feel like those comparisons really don’t do the book justice. I can spot where the pieces of these two books that could have drawn up these comparisons but ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES is a book that easily makes a name for itself and stands on its own two feet, offering a unique and emotionally-charged story that reaches out to a wide audience.
When the book first opens, we’re presented with two characters: Violet Markey and Theodore Finch. What do they have in common? They’re both on the brink of suicide… and yet their stories are both very different. Immediately was invested but it actually took just a little bit for me to get into the book because I wasn’t quite sure where it was going — but that was a good thing. ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES wasn’t predictable, or at least it wasn’t for me. Violet seemed to be suffering for a depression after the loss of her sister about a year prior but Finch… he had a bit of a different situation going on. He describes his struggle in unique way that I didn’t quite understand at first, saying he goes from periods of being asleep and struggles to find the periods where he can feel awake. This causes him to miss weeks of school, to seem like an oddball to his peers so what does he do? He shrugs it off. Plays into the “weirdo” comments of his classmates. Tries on new personalities. Finch is so unique and so wonderful and I got to know this charismatic guy who was really struggling with something in his life and didn’t know how or why he was feeling the way he was and couldn’t surface long enough to do anything about it.
I don’t want to retell the whole story because it’s a really wonderful experience that I want readers to have for themselves, but I will tell you that I absolutely fell in love with these two main characters and how they ended up forming a bond with each other. Violet and Finch were two kids who may have never come together without going through these incredible struggles in their lives and how they end up working through things with each other just really warmed my heart and soul.
That being said, the book isn’t without a dark side. Both Violet and Finch have their own personal demons and it’s no common sadness. They both have serious issues to work through on many levels and although it’s hard to watch them experience, it’s such an incredible story to witness. I absolutely love what they discover about themselves through their friendship and experiences. They learn how to open up to each other and to the world. They learn how to laugh again, how to let go, how to speak, how to enjoy each day. I just really loved both of them so much and they ended up feeling like real people to me. This wasn’t just the story of Violet and Finch, but every person — young and old — who has been in their shoes.
ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES was a home run for me. I was an emotional wreck after this book, having experienced some real highs and some true lows. I laughed, I cried (so hard), and I loved. This book has stuck with me since I finished reading and I know it will stick with me for a long time. It already holds a special place in my heart and truly the emotions come flooding back to me just thinking about the book or hearing the title. It’s one I truly recommend for so, so many reasons and I can’t stress enough the importance of what you’ll learn from these two characters.
“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
Violet // Character Obsessions: Her sister, her fears, her grief.
I really felt for Violet. After losing her sister in car accident, Violet suffers from depression and survivor’s guilt… Except she does the best job that she can to hide the depression side of things. Her parents understand that things haven’t been the same since Violet’s sister died and yet I don’t think they really understood how bad things were. For that, I’m so thankful for Finch. He happened to have the same motives as Violet and yet, he went out of his way to save her that day and everything in her life changed. I was just really happy to see that person show up in her life that could really make a difference when she had shut everyone out.
Finch // Character Obsessions: Personas, living in the moment, Violet, words.
Oh, Finch. I really didn’t know how to understand him at first. He seemed a quirky — which he was — and I wasn’t sure how to take that. But the more you get to know Finch, the more you understand why he acts the way he does. What makes him tick. And I really just fell in love with his character. I loved the relationship he and Violet started. I really just felt for him in general and his story was just so heartbreaking.
Kept Me Hooked On: Mental Health Awareness. ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES really demonstrates how mental health issues can really go unnoticed or even hidden. It’s really important to acknowledge that just because it’s an issue or disease that’s not physically manifested, it doesn’t mean that it’s not equally important. Both Violet and Finch struggled with psychological and mental health issues that were too easily kicked under the rug or not addressed. They found each other to help them through a lot but it cannot just be brushed off.
Left Me Wanting More: Hugs. I need a hug after reading this book. I want to give hugs after reading this book. It really put my emotions through the wringer but in a good way! It was such a powerful read for me.
Buy this book. Read this book. Love this book. It was an instant favorite, an emotional journey, and a book I will be recommending for a very long time.
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(Click the cover to see my review!)