All The Bright Places
Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet on the ledge of the school bell tower were both think of jumping off. One there to feel they have control over their life, the other is subconsciously taken their by their own two legs. Violet, realising where she is freezes in her panic. Seeing her state, Finch talks her off the ledge and in turn, Violet returns the favour. The students below see the scene up above in the bell tower and begin to see Violet in the light of a ‘Hero’.
When a project is set in one of Finch’s and Violet’s lessons, Finch choices Violet as his project partner, much to her dismay. They start to wander their state of Indiana as part of the US Geography project for strange, unordinary and amazing sites that make their state stand out from the rest.
As they wander, the two begin to grow close and learn to trust each other. Finch helps Violet to overcome her fear of moving cars that developed after she was in a car crash in which her older sister died, leading to Violet’s depression. Violet however learns to see the ‘real’ Finch, even through his many personalities that he shows off week after week. With each place of interest they visit the more they begin to care for each other, gradually and cautiously falling in love.
But, will they ever be able to get down from that bell tower ledge? Or will one of them end up taking a leap of faith?
Niven creates beautiful characters, complex for their years and facing life in different ways, but both with things in their pasts that cause them issues. Finch and Violet gel well together as characters, friends, lovers and the people that may just help put each other back together again.
She manages to show that even the most popular, happy people in school, such as the likes of Amanda Monk who has Bulimia, and that even one thought, like ‘I think I’m imaginary’ can make your friends turn their backs on you, making you become the school outcast. She manages the universally ‘delicate’ topics of suicide, death, love and sex without the stigma that commonly shown by society. Being open and honest about the subjects instead of shrouding them behind a shadow of indignity.
Two people broken for different reasons and different events, but with the ability to fix each other and help them live again, will they make it? Or will the world crumble around them as they watch? There is nothing beautiful or poetic about suicide, but Niven brings beauty and humour to the story of star-crossed lovers who seem doomed from their first meeting and only seem to get worse throughout with Violet’s parents forbidding her to see Finch. But of course no one can stop true loves seeing each other. Finch disappears, taking his things and his car “Little Bastard” with him, which it seems his mother, family and friends are not bothered by as it’s ‘Just what Finch does.’ but will out of the blue emails from Finch open their eyes?
Their love story is heart-breaking, it’s true and beautiful, but Niven also makes you see how important it is to live, and if you can live, then live in the moment because if a simple smile can make you Awake then there should be nothing in life to stop you from living. So live, because you never know when your number will be up.
If your true love can’t save you, can anyone at all?
Awarded: 5 out of 5 Stars