2016 Book Reading Pact #1
“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.”
It was last year when I read my first Young Adult fiction. John Green’s Fault in our stars was heart wrenching and beautiful. And when I read Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell I knew I would love to read more books of this genre. So, when I came across All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, the raving reviews made me buy it promptly.
The book begins with two high school kids, Violet and Finch, standing on the ledge of the school bell tower, contemplating suicide. Violet is grieving over her sister’s death and Finch is fighting mental illness (presumably Bipolar but the books doesn’t state it clearly).
In school Finch is termed as Freak but he is “I don’t give a damn about the world” kind of a guy. Violet is part of the cool kids troop, but she can’t wait to get away from all. When they meet on the ledge, Finch helps change violet’s mind about suicide, but he lets everyone believe that it was Violet who saved him from killing himself. Everything is good till now.
Finch and Violet break the ice by becoming friends on Facebook. These fourteen year olds quote Virginia Wolf a lot to communicate and impress each other. When a school project brings Finch and Violet together, life unfolds for Violet. She gradually comes out of her depression and begins to truly live life. Obviously, she falls in love with Finch, but is not sure whether the boy loves her back. Finch knows he has no control over his thoughts (read illness) and he doesn’t think it is fair to let Violet get involved. This bittersweet tale ends leaving the reader teary eyed.
A Quote from the book:
“I’d like to live in a world designed by Theodore Finch.” I think: For a while, I did.
So, yes, great combination of elements put well together, but the story lacks a strong support from other characters in the book. For e.g. There seems to be no one there to help Finch fight his illness or heal. His best friends Charlie and Brenda cannot explain his sudden disappearances. His sisters Kate and Decca too seem to be just characters who don’t really add any value to the story. His mother, a real nice woman, is too exhausted to notice that something is killing (literally) her son. His separated Father (who probably has a mental disorder too) is abusive. The school counselor is a joke. I mean, who would not dwell deeper into matters as serious as suicide just because the parents are unreachable. And, finally Violet’s parents – These two characters shy away from helping a kid even after knowing what his actions are motivated by. They slot him as Bad Influence on their daughter. Finch has far more information about different types of suicides which is disturbing. I wouldn’t want a suicidal kid to be reading this book ever.
My take on it – The ending is sad but still lovely because it is written well. There are quite a few funny and charming instances/dialogues which makes it a good one time read, but unlike other books which I have finished in two days, this one took me a week because I just didn’t feel enthusiastic enough to pick up from where I left last.
Have a great day and Happy Reading!