Book Talk: All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Book Talk: All The Bright Places by Jennifer NivenAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Published by Knopf on January 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

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Finch and Violet meet on the ledge at school — both wondering what it would be like to jump. One becomes a hero and saves the other — but only the two of them know the truth of what happened up there. When they are paired together on a school project that leads them traipsing all over and exploring natural wonders in their state, the two feel alive together and like themselves. But can that feeling last? Is it enough for the boy who always thinks about death and is called a freak? Is it enough for the girl who lost her sister and has let fear get in the way of living?

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anna paquin ugly crying

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Oh MAN you guys. OH MAN. This was our book club pick for April and I have so many thoughts and feelings about this one. This one had to simmer a bit in my head because I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the whole of it. It was a very feels-y book and I spent a long time SOBBING by the end. Like, had to put the book down and listen to Will say, “Why do you read books like that if they make you do this?” BECAUSE I AM LIKE TO INFLICT PAIN ON MYSELF, K?

I have to say that I had a rough start with this one. I was getting a little frustrated in the beginning because I’m like OKAY BOOK. We are meant to be. If we were on a dating website together we would have totally been matched together with like 100% compatibility. WHY ARE THERE NOT FIREWORKS AND SPARKS? I mean, this book screamed Jamie (promises of major heart-wrenching things, kind of dark subject matter, quirky characters, romance, etc). And the writing was really good! SO WHAT WAS THE ISSUE?

Despite that, I was smitten with Theo’s voice IMMEDIATELY — he made me laugh and he was just this bright spirited person that felt like they were living life in full color at some times. But at the same time he made my heart quake with sadness and that deeply rooted brokenness so much so that it was a little unnerving. He seemed quirky and alive but as you keep reading you realize that, yes it is part him, but also some of those eccentricities are part of his mental illness…the things others in his life didn’t recognize. His voice just took over for me and at times seemed to make Violet fade into the background a little for me. Her voice just wasn’t as strong for me and I was sad about that because I felt like I should have been able to connect with her.

But then it DID happen for me halfway through the book. Suddenly I was emotionally connecting with this book (and both characters) in a real way. I felt like I was soaring but I also had that anxiety just growing in my chest as the book progressed. I was really loving the relationship between Theo and Violet, coming from two different social stratospheres,  and how he was showing her how to live again yet there was that deepest darkest black hole of sadness within him. It made for some confusing and intense emotions. I loved their adventures and their wandering. There was just a certain electricity when they interacted — that pinch that reminds you that you are still alive. I was nervous this was going to be simplified to an “oh a romance saves all” sort of story but I was really pleased, FOR THE MOST PART, to see how mental illness was explored in this one.

By the end I was gutted. I mean, I don’t think a book so far this year has truly emptied every tear from my body like this one did. I felt everything. Like I lived it right with them. I felt hopeful but I also felt like I just wanted to collapse because my muscles and my heart and everything within me had been overworked while experiencing this one. But I also felt conflicted which I’ll try to explain before.

 SPOILERS

And now I need to talk spoilers sooo if you have NOT read this and do not want to be spoiled…don’t click this and just move to my rating and other non-spoilery things below!!

View Spoiler »

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ writing, emotions, characters, plot
–  lack of connection until about half way through

Re-readability: I don’t know if I could handle a reread.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I did buy it because I heard good things & it was for book club. Because I won’t reread it nor is it an all time favorite, I will be donating it to my library.

a5fans of contemporary YA, readers looking for books exploring mental illness, readers who like books that will wreck their hearts, fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell (though I really do think you can like this even if you don’t like either of those but fans looking for comparable titles I think this is a good one)

a8It took a while for me to really fall in love for this one, despite how drawn I was to Finch’s voice, but once I did connect it just took off for me. This was an emotional story that made me sob uncontrollably and made me thankful for the bright places I am in now compared to the dark places I once have been. However, I’m still here trying to decide how I feel about some things at the end. I’m really conflicted about those things. So while I was emotionally moved by the story I had a lot of things to think about at the end. I am always thankful for a book that can make me think about it deeper.

review-on-post-itAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
How did you feel about the portrayal of mental illness/suicide in this one?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she’s actually that old. When she’s not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.

Comments

  1. I absolutely get what you mean. Really, this book destroyed me, I cried so much when I finished it that I was completely empty. I still feel like I haven’t entirely accepted what happened, I can still feel its repercussions, you know?
    I connected so much with the characters, I loved their voices and I just wish.. I don’t know, I guess it was horribly realistic and I wish with all my heart things had gone differently.. :'( </3

  2. I totally agree with the spoilery bits. I was so thankful it was more realistic, and I’m always a fan of that because life doesn’t work out in happy wonderful ways, but I agree about the romanticized bit. I was wondering the same thing. (I’m trying to be non spoilery)!
    This is a really great book club read because I think it deals with the issues so well and brings up a lot of questions about not just the person having to deal with it, but family and friends as well.

  3. Great review Jamie. I also wanted to say I appreciated you talking about some of the issues here while also saying that you enjoyed reading it. I haven’t seen a lot of balanced reviews for this one and that’s been really frustrating to me since it’s such a fraught book in a lot of ways.

    That said, I have to admit I wasn’t a big fan and the main reason I’m still thinking about it months after reading is because I’m still contemplating all the reasons I didn’t enjoy it and all of the pieces that bothered me.

    (My review is here (now that you can’t be ruined by spoilers!): https://missprint.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/all-the-bright-places-a-review/

  4. Great review. I’m glad this book worked for you in a lot of ways. Though I knew from the beginning that this one was not going to be the book for me – I’m not a huge fan of quirkiness, especially when I feel like it’s being used for subject matter that isn’t treated seriously enough – I had many of the same feelings you did about the ending. Like you, I didn’t want Finch to be saved by love or find a reason to live in Violet – but this is why I kind of resented feeling like Finch’s storyline does that in effect for Violet (her depression lifts, she finds new motivation following her sister’s death as a result of Finch’s intervention – but it’s an intervention that doesn’t come without costs for Finch, and also can’t be easily separated out from his own experience of mental illness). I did feel super sad and upset when I finished the book, but at the same time, again, I feel like it romanticizes mental illness, gets it mixed up with quirkiness (which yeah, like you, I was unsettled by as I continued to read), and treats Finch’s suicide as inevitable (without exploring therapeutic interventions – not that those are perfect, but ugh, no one even tries).

    Anyway, good review. It does get to many of the issues that complicated my experience of this one!

  5. It was a very heart wrenching book for me, and I was so sad and frustrated because I saw it comming… I saw that Finch was deeply sad and although I was hopeful he was fighting so hard… I was SO WORRIED!
    I’m pretty sure I couldn’t re-read this one, because it made me cry so much…
    Great review Jamie!

  6. That GIF is kind of perfect. That is exactly how I felt when I finished this book. I loved it!

  7. Christina says:

    Possible spoilers in this comment…..

    I loved this book, but I agree that it took me awhile to get into it. I think i started it like 3 times before I started feeling Finch and Violet’s voices. I really think it is such an important book for people who have loved ones who are struggling…I DON’T think I would recommend it to someone who is struggling themselves. I thought the way that Finch described his days “awake” was really powerful and eye-opening to me.
    I was SO MAD at so many people in this book at times though…I was like HE NEEDS HELP, HELP HIM. I was so afraid for it to end, like literally not wanting to turn the pages because there was only one way for it to end.

    On another note, I grew up really really close to some of the main places in the book, so that was really interesting! Makes me want to take a tour of my Hoosier state 🙂

  8. This book KILLED me. Based on everyone else’s reactions I was pretty able to predict the ending (I am so sad I predicted right). The dual perspective was something I really liked. I loved both Finch and Violet and there were no annoying characters were not a problem! I think it was really interesting they met both while on the brink of jumping the bell tower. It really just defined how they were both emotionally feeling at the moment. Great review and thanks for sharing!

    ~Kaitlin

  9. I already tweeted you about this but I’ll say it again: I, too, have conflicting feelings towards this book. Like you, Finch instantly grabbed me and I also think that at times Violet becomes sort-of-okay when contrasted to him. It took me a while to be invested, as well. And the Blue Hole scene. Gaaah. I reread it just the other day and oh my gods! My main frustration is HE COULD’VE GOTTEN THE HELP HE CLEARLY AND DESPERATELY NEEDED. But, yeah, it was so realistic. But then again, I still hate the parents! And oh. I wish no one has to experience what Violet experience on that scene ever. But Jennifer. Ugh. 🙁

  10. I loved the book and I cried like a baby. I just want to know if I am the only one that really hated Finch’s mom? You don’t ask a teenage girl to go do the things that Finch’s mom asked of her. I get the mom was distraught but it was just so wrong on so many levels. That being said this is a book I want to forget so I can reread it and rediscover all the feels.

  11. I just finished reading this book and wanted to know what other bloggers thought about it. AH! I would say I fell for Theo the moment he entered (which is from the beginning) Violet, not so much. But yeah. This is the probably the most powerful read this year for me. loved your review by the way. 🙂

  12. I know people might be a little shocked by this, but I wasn’t really a fan of All the Bright Places. It was good, but it just didn’t wow me like I really expected it to after seeing all the advance reviews. In the end, I was more disappointed. I wasn’t really wowed by either main character, but I did find that I wanted more of Violet’s back story. I would have been a little bit more satisfied if Niven included more about Eleanor.