Book Talk: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

18460392Theodore 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.

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This is not going to be one of my normal book talks. The subject matter of this book is tough, and I really have a lot to say. Instead of just chatting about how awesome the characters are and such (which is always fun) I am going to talk about what this book meant to me. When I was sitting in bed this morning, reading the last pages and sobbing…what was I thinking.

All the Bright Places really hits on some tough subjects. I think they are important ones, but still tough. I know some people are reading this and wondering what could be so important and tough about a YA novel. This is when I shake my head, roll my eyes, and get a little upset. Adults don’t want to talk about the stuff that happens in this book, therefore teens typically don’t either. But this book is FILLED with subjects that need to be talked about. A lot of these subjects hit home in some way or another, and that is what I am going to talk about. This book is important, and had me doing a lot of reflecting of my own.

Grief: It’s no shocker that grief is a large part of this book. Violet is still trying to come to terms with everything that happened since her sister’s death. Grief is a huge part. It’s also no shocker that I can relate to it. With that being said, it gave me the reminder that all grief is different. Each death is different and there are millions of ways to react. Car accidents happen in many different ways. Cancer takes people differently. I still mourn the loss of my dad to the cancer that his body just couldn’t handle, and though it’s different I could really relate to how Violet is grieving for her sister after an accident. There are many emotions, frustrations, and behaviors that I really could relate to even though our situations were different. A quote that really struck home with me…

 

“I don’t have any friends or a boyfriend, because it’s not like the rest of the world stops, you know?” My voice is getting louder, and I can’t seem to do anything about it. “Everyone gone on with their lives, and maybe I can’t keep up. Maybe I don’t want to.”

It’s hard to remember that life moves on for everyone else while your whole world seems to come to a crashing halt. This is something I felt. This is something I still feel to this day, wondering how people go on with this and that when my life isn’t at all what I thought because of loss. I loved the author’s portrayal of grief. It was so accurate. It really stuck with me.

Mental Illness: I don’t know many people that don’t have any sort of experience with mental illness. Some struggle with it, some struggle with the sads, some struggle with helping loved ones that struggle with mental illnesses. It’s not fair, but such is life. There are so many different kinds of mental illnesses; many different diagnoses that someone could have. This particular book deals with bi-polar, if you want to label it. And it kind of scared me. I have definitely watched loved ones go through what Finch called “the sleeping.” It’s scary. I have honestly never felt so helpless and useless as I watched. I honestly have never been more terrified, and there was that fear that maybe this time that person won’t come back. How is this still a thing that we are just brushing under the rug? How are so many people still ignoring that this is a problem? Yes, they don’t show any physical ailments. They don’t have the measles, the chicken pox, or any other sort of sickness like that. But they are still sick. Why are we still ignoring it and shying away from it? Why is it such a scary thing to try to help those that are too scared to ask for help because of the stigma of mental illnesses? It’s terrible. We make anyone that struggles feel terrible. I think that we all struggle, just at different levels. So why are we shying away from those that struggle more than we do? This book definitely makes it known that ignoring mental illnesses is a problem.

Suicide: This is probably the trickiest part of the book for me to talk about. Suicide is a messy subject, and there is always the fear of offending someone by it. I personally have not know anyone that committed suicide. I have known people who have thought of it. I have had the chance to get to know family members taken away from me because they committed suicide before I was even a thought (or when I was just too young to understand it). I don’t totally understand how people get to that point, but that is just what it is. What you need to remember is that suicide is a permanent solution to what could be a temporary problem. There is no coming back from that. And the people that you leave in your wake are the ones that suffer. I am not saying that your feelings aren’t valid at all. But there are other options. There are so many people in this world to help you and who care about you. So many people that can help you before you reach that point. We just need to make sure that we are reaching out to those that struggle with these thoughts. By reaching out you could save someone’s life. I think that this book really drives home the importance of paying attention to the signs.

This book….this book is many things. This book was so good (I was so sucked into the world of Violet and Finch and was cheering them on the whole time). This book hurt (hurt me to the core guys). This book is important.

Have you read this one? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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One thought on “Book Talk: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: 2016 Releases I Loved! – MIDWESTERN BOOK NERD

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