All the Bright Places is a long overdue read for me. I decided to let the hype wither down a little before I get my hands on it.
Jennifer Niven has authored several books prior to All the Bright Places. Safe to say, she’s a veteran on this field. However, this is her debut novel in the Young Adult genre as mostly her crafts cater to the adult department. I’m more than certain the great switch of target audiences and writing style was difficult but Niven’s transition was smooth. She’s fluent in teenspeak and she knows just the exact words that would elicit the proper emotions – laughter, good spirits, despair, sympathy, etc.
Needless to say, the most eminent theme on this novel is suicide. The elements – setting, character personalities Niven used to create the mood and drama were fine. However, my sole basis for this conclusion is only on the emotions it evoked. There’s a bit of manipulation of feelings through words that might have happened. I can’t attest for certainty if these emotions are in adherence to truth as I’ve never experienced such nor am I a professional to confirm it. If Niven purely drew the cornerstone of her story just on what stuff the popular media proclaimed, not doing enough research, not digging deeper, then I guess this is a poor representation of the community involved.
However, the YA community is fortunate to be introduced to this book holding such a theme so timely and essential. Jennifer Niven made a great choice of target market. I was once told by my friend who’s likewise a psychologist that depression is an illness, a thing that should be taken earnestly. It’s not just a fleeting feeling that crosses the mind. It exists as physically as an acne, a tumor, a fracture, etc. and thus, it’s not simply an excuse for affected people to grab attention.
In this novel, Finch suffered from Bipolar Disorder, an ostensible reason for his classmate to bully him while Violet endured Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a cause for her to halt living a life.We already saw multiple accounts of cases of these illnesses that they became a usual vocabulary for us, even a subject of ridicule or a matter of bullying for some. Reading this story, the clear-cut truth may have smacked us in the gut as we plea guilty on such crime. I like how we get a rigorous analysis of what goes on to these people’s mind, how they react against bullying or the people coercing them to make a headway in life. Violet and Finch stood to
Finch and Violet met at an odd place, at an odd time. Their course on love slowly developed (at least on Violet’s part, thank heavens we’re spared a “mutual instalove!”) while taking expeditions in Indiana town, exchanging private Facebook messages, etc. It (love-related plot) was a hooking series of events if truth be told, but for me it kind of eclipsed the core, the most important issue in the story which is mental illness. Like, Finch and Violet were about to jump off from atop the school building but then the author decides she has to create a love story out of them for her readers first. Sure, there were snippets and hints of that here and there but they were just that.
The plot unfolded in a manner that, for me, is basically foreseeable. The ending was no longer a surprise. I partly blame the hype for this because if it’s not so ridiculously put up and if people didn’t exclaim the ending was a scene to throw a fit, I wouldn’t have any presumptions. So yes, the promise to bawl out on this didn’t happen for me. It was sad but not too much. I partly think people were just being melodramatic over things but I don’t blame them. To each his or her own, of course.
Theodore Finch is the epitome of students who gets outright pressured by his environment – troubled families, bullies, school dilemmas, etc. His character development throughout the story was anything but static. He’s hilarious, smart, downcast, wrathful, and all other emotions trapped in one single soul. For some reasons, sitting behind the lens of his point of view, my connection with him as a reader is more powerful. In relation to this, another POV we sat at is Violet Marky aka Ultraviolet Re-Markey-able. Though I favored her perspectives less, I like Violet’s transition from the girl who receives assistance on moving on to the entirely otherwise someone, that who gives. Together, she and Finch made a good tandem in helping each other battle mental illness and the physical fun-obliterating, life-wrecking, formidable monsters in life.
Let’s look at their families. The Markey household notably lived the American dream. That’s putting aside the tragic fate the elder daughter in the family met. This is in complete contrast with the Finches. Before the heads of the household divorced, the scene was terrible. Battering and word abuse was a constant. These accessory characters played a big deal in moulding the characters. We learned how much Finch lingered for a better family by the way he’s hit with a pang of jealousy when he had a dose of warmth from Violet’s parents. With his dad persistently beating the living daylight out of him, he grew accustomed to the pain, unafraid of anything, not even death. Overall, the secondary personae were of great assistance in helping build character development of the primary ones
Let me end this review with one of my favorite quotes in the book.
“I learned that there is good in this world if you look enough for it. I learned that not everyone is disappointing including me, and that a 1257-foot bump in the ground can feel higher than a bell tower if you’re standing next to the right person.”