Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Song for the day: This Isn’t the End by Owl City

When Theodore Finch a.k.a the freak and Violet Markey a.k.a. the good girl coincidentally met in a ledge on top of their school’s bell tower, they did not expect the effect that they will cause in each other’s lives.

(Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18460392-all-the-bright-places)

Note: Spoilers Alert! Read at your own risk! 

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I will repeat what I previously said in my short Goodreads review about this book here: It isn’t like The Fault in our Stars or Eleanor and Park. This book is much, much, more than that.

It’s true that like TFIOS, the guy also dies. And that this book also deals with living after a really terrible storm but, no. It, of course isn’t like Eleanor and Park at all. I don’t know why this novel is even mentioned. (But then again, this is only my opinion.) With that said, I will now begin this review.

* * *

First of all, I would like to warn the people who are interested in reading this book because I assure you, you will cry. And no, it isn’t the peaceful kind of crying. Truthfully, I was a huge mess when I finished reading this book. Like eyes-puffy-head-and-chest-aching-snot-all-over-my-pillow-and-bed mess. But don’t worry because the pain and crying is all worth it.

It was really hard to read the last chapters of All the Bright Places because I know that something bad is going to happen and when it did happen, I felt like I stepped on a thousand shards of glass. That’s how much it hurts.

Now that’s settled, let’s start.

THE CHARACTERS:

Theodore Finch. He is the kind of guy who is impossible to exist in real life but I still love him. (Because who cares about real life? I’m in fiction heaven right now.) He plays the guitar, has a nice voice, writes songs, quotes dead poets, and writes cheesy lines like:

“You make me love you, 

And that could be the greatest thing my heart was ever fit to do… 

You make me lovely, and it’s so lovely to be lovely to the one I love.” 

He’s like the perfect boyfriend every literary fangirl is waiting for. But it’s not just those things that made me love this character. I love his humanity. His look on things. And my heart aches for him because all he ever wanted was to be treated like a person. Not a freak. Not someone who has an illness. He just wants to be Theodore Finch. A friend, a classmate, a son. A human.

Violet Markey. She’s good. She’s a writer, popular, down to earth, have a super famous blog with her sister, beautiful, nice, outgoing, and fun. But all of that was before her sister, Eleanor died in a car accident. After that incident, she turned into Violet Markey: the person who can’t wait to graduate and escape Indiana. Violet the coward, Violet who can’t drive, Violet who blames herself for her sister’s death, angry Violet, sad Violet. Empty Violet.

I like Violet’s character and as much as I want to say that a girl as perfect as her (the before Violet) doesn’t exist in real life, I know I’m just going to lie because I know a handful of individuals who are as perfect as her.

I feel so much pain for Violet. Her sister died in a car accident and she had a hard time dealing with that. But then she met Finch and he made her realize how good life is. And then she started to heal, started to talk about her sister, started to drive, even. But bam! Finch dies. He gave up his fight and she is left behind…again. I mean, how painful is that?! But I know that she won’t give up. After all, she made it this far.

THE PACE:

I love the way Violet and Finch’s relationship grew. They met by chance but they did not suddenly fall in love with each other. The relationship wasn’t sudden or hurried or slow. It was just…right. Both the characters have established themselves before the book turned upwards which is a really good thing because the readers have enough connection to the characters to understand them and sympathize with them.

I also like that they both took their time to share their own respective secrets to each other and that Finch waited for the right moment to kiss Violet. They even waited for each other to be ready before having sex. How nice is that?

THE WRITING: 

Jennifer Niven wrote this novel perfectly and even though I am still asking: “Why did Finch killed himself? Why? Why? Why?!” I know that it’s an important part of the story and that this book wouldn’t be this book if the author removed that part. (It was after all, the theme of the novel.)

I actually almost lost it again when I read in Jennifer’s note that she experienced the same thing as Violet. She was also left behind by a boy whom she loved so much and that she’s the first person who found the body, too. It’s all too sad and depressing. But I’m glad that she was able to turn that traumatic incident into this book that I know will help a lot of people.

FINAL REMARKS: 

I know that suicide isn’t an easy subject especially when the author had a close encounter with it yet I believe that this book did a good job in depicting the life of a boy who committed suicide. Because at the end of the day, Finch is just a boy. A boy who have seen the ugly parts of life earlier than most of us. A boy who just wants to be treated like a person, for once. A boy hungry for love and attention and care. A boy who got tired in dealing with life.

It pains me greatly that at the beginning of the novel, Finch promised to himself that this time will be different. This time, he will stay awake. But he didn’t. He gave up the battle. He stopped swimming.

It hurts me even more that we can’t always save the people who have saved us. Especially when they think that they can handle it alone. It’s true that you need to take the first step. That you have to decide to help yourself. But you can’t do it alone. You can never do it alone. You need support which is one thing that Finch didn’t realize. He was too afraid to be labelled as an illness. Too afraid to be the freak that everyone thinks he is. Too afraid to hurt Violet and his family. Too afraid of himself.

It isn’t a lie that living is painful. It’s painful to think, to care, to trust, and to love. But just like this book, it is painful but good. Living, is still good. I guess that’s the ultimate message of this story. That even though life is full of shit, we must understand that it is just like us. Life is like humans. There are ugly and beautiful parts. There are lies and truths. There is darkness and rainbows. There are winters and summers. There is evil and there is good.

And sometimes, all we need is a map, a hopeful heart, and a piece of paper and pen to appreciate life. All we need to do is to let go of the bad and remember the good. We need to believe that this isn’t the end. The bad things will eventually stop and someday you’ll learn how to control them and not let them control you.

All we need is to wander through all the bright places and breathe. Breathe and look.

* * *

My rating: 5/5 stars

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