Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
When I read it: April 2015
Genres: YA; contemporary; fiction>mental illness>depression
Recommended for: This is a tough thing for me to come up with for a list of reasons, but I cautiously recommend this to most people, excepting those who might be triggered by depression, suicide, attempted suicide, and/or abuse. Consider reading some reviews before deciding if this is for you.
What it’s about:
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.
This book has been a bit controversial. Some people loved it, some hated it, some thought it romanticized mental illness, etc. I can see where they’re coming from with that, but I loved this book. I saw why people didn’t like it, but it struck a chord with me because I saw myself so much in Finch. I remember that I had to stop reading this a lot, put it aside, and do something else for a while, because it was getting to me. I’m not sure I’ve related so much to a character in a book before, or since, at least where the depression thing is concerned.
Maybe that’s a bad thing. Maybe I was a boring, cliched, depressed (sometimes suicidal) teenager. If I read this again now, maybe I wouldn’t like it as much as I did two years ago. I’ve changed since then, my perspective is different, I read a bit more critically. But this book has stayed with me, the good and the bad, so that has to count for something, right?
Is it a perfect book? No. But did it leave an impact on me? Yes. I suggest you check out some reviews, both positive and negative, if you’re not sure about it, or think it might be triggering for you.