I’ve finished reading my first book of 2015 and it ripped my heart to shreds. All the Bright Places is surprisingly raw and emotional, delving into the deepest crevices of a troubled heart. Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet in the unluckiest of places where the luckiest of things happens. Standing on the bell tower of their high school, six stories above the ground, ready to jump, they save each other. Finch is obsessed with death and thinks longingly of the ways he may die, trying to find something that will make him want to stay awake. Violet is a writer, counting down the days until she can escape Indiana, as well as, her own guilt and the pain of her sister’s recent death.
This unlikely of duo pairs up for a school project where they are to discover the wonders of Indiana. Neither of them know it but from the first wonder to their vary last “wandering” together, their lives are changed completely. There’s a lovely part in the novel where Finch and Violet find one of those chalkboards where random people write what they want to do before they die. It’s in this chapter that the reader really understands who Finch and Violet are together and who they are separately. I couldn’t help but think of the things I would write on a chalkboard like that. I’d write: get published, travel to Europe, get married, make something of myself, help others, make a difference, and feel good about myself. I’d also steal some of Violet’s, “Stop being afraid. Stop thinking too much. Write. Breathe. (135)”.
All the Bright Places reminded me of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars but ten times as loveable and painful. As the reader gets to know the characters and follows them on the progress of their school project, they begin to fall in love with them. The fears and angst that Violet and Finch go through are extremely jarring and beautifully written. Their pain edges it’s way into your bones, streams into your heart, breaking it chapter by chapter. Don’t get me wrong, there are some lovely moments in this novel, moments beautiful enough to make your heart melt and your knees weak, but they wouldn’t mean as much to the story if it weren’t for the painful ones.
“Now all I see is someone who’s too afraid to get back out there. Everyone around you is going to give you a gentle push now and then, but never hard enough because they don’t want to upset Poor Violet. You need shoving, not pushing. You need to jump back on that camel. Otherwise you’re going to stay up on that ledge you’ve made for yourself.” (126)
All the Bright Places has the power to help you understand the horror and depression that some people experience. It’s meant to remind the reader to be strong, to be yourself, and to live every single moment to its fullest. It’s purpose is to help the reader remember their perfect days and hold onto them while creating new adventures. All the Bright Places is supposed to make you feel everything all at once, pushing you forward and up to the stars.
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of All the Bright Places from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review.