As I said in last night’s reviews, I have been listening to a lot of YA audiobooks on my commute and next up is All the Bright Places which nearly brought me to tears as I took my exit Friday morning.
Trigger warning for suicide.
“It’s my experience that people are a lot more sympathetic if they can see you hurting, and for the millionth time in my life I wish for measles or smallpox or some other easily understood disease just to make it easier on me and also on them.”
Theodore Finch, a boy obsessed with suicide, and Violet Markey, a girl racked with guilt over her sister’s death, meet-cute on top of their school’s belltower. Finch, who never intended to jump, ends up talking Violet down and framing the event as her saving him. He then becomes a little obsessed with her and manages to partner up with her for a school project that involves “wandering” their home state of Indiana. It is a lot more charming that it sounds or maybe I was just head over heels in love with this book that I’m willing to overlook some of its flaws. Eventually Finch breaks down Violet’s walls and the two form a special bond with one another.
“In case you haven’t noticed, we’re already involved, Finch. And in case you haven’t noticed, I’m broken too.”
Niven alternates the narration between her two main characters which allowed her to fill in gaps while still maintaining a first person narration. Finch and Violet at times lean toward the MPD tropes I usually groan at, especially in YA, but their story never felt forced and their character progression felt very realistic. The ending positively gutted me.
This books covers a lot of ground in under 400 pages. Niven manages to give realistic voices to depression, suicidal thoughts, PTSD and bipolar disorder as well as the ramifications of emotional and physical abuse. The author’s note shares Niven’s personal connection with suicide but I didn’t need to read that to know she had first hand experience in one way or another.