All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Published: January 2015 by Knoph
Genres: YA; Contemporary; Realistic Fiction
Wow. This book was quite an experience, in good ways and bad. This might get a little spoiler-y, but I’ll try to avoid them.
The story of Violet and Finch is told from both points of view, which I actually liked. I’ve only read maybe one other multiple POV book that I enjoyed, so the way this book made it work–and work well–is something special, in my opinion. The writing style is engaging, simple (but not overly simple), and things moved smoothly from one POV to the other.
I felt like I was back in high school while reading a lot of this book, because it captures the experience and environment so well. The way the kids talked and behaved, the way faculty interacted with them, etc. were so real. I found myself mostly sympathizing with Violet and her experiences, but I really empathized with Finch and what he was dealing with (internally and externally) I had a little empathy with Violet, and a little sympathy for Finch, but I definitely related more to him. It was honestly painful to read some of the things from his POV because I know those feelings and experiences so well.
I can’t speak for other people with bipolar disorder, but I think Jennifer Niven did a really good job capturing what it’s like, especially when you’re young and not too many people notice or want to acknowledge that something is wrong.
This book made me laugh, tear up, actually cry, and it even made me angry. There were characters I wanted to hug, characters I wanted to punch, and one or two that I wanted to just shake. No matter how I felt about them, though, they were so well written I could hear and see them. They were diverse and realistic, just like real people.
I don’t want to say more because I will definitely give spoilers if I do, so, to wrap it up:
Overall, I really liked this book. And I hated it. It is not an easy read, and if you’re looking for something happy and fun, this isn’t it. If you’re triggered by or sensitive to abuse, suicide/attempted suicide, death, or mental illness, you should skip this book. But, if you can handle the subject matter, I think the book is very well written and the story is poignant, but very good.