#CBR11 Bingo: Youths!
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.
This book was basically described as The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor & Park, but it suffers in comparisons to both of those novels, which several years after being published are still among the best of YA novels out there. Neither of the teens in this book battle a terrifying and terminal disease (#Fuck cancer!), nor do either of them have as fraught and depressing a home life as Eleanor in Eleanor & Park. Finch has genuine and very difficult struggles with depression, however, and Violet is trying to process a very deep and genuine grief, missing her vibrant and inspiring older sister, while also battling survivor’s guilt (her sister was driving Violet home when they had a car accident. Violet survived, her sister got killed).
Violet isn’t really suicidal, Finch occasionally very much is. He keeps researching different ways to kill himself, because when his anxiety and depression really take over, he loses months to the illness and he is finding it harder and harder to find reasons to continue living. No one in school knows the truth about Violet and Finch’s meeting at the ledge of the school bell tower. The official story is that Violet persuaded Finch not to jump, no one knows that she was in fact there first, and it was Finch who talked her down (when he arrived to possibly do the same thing she was contemplating). When they are paired up for a school project (Violet has usually been able to get out of any course work in the past year, because of her “special circumstances”) and Finch refuses to let Violet get away with half-assing it, they eventually build an unlikely friendship that begins to blossom into something more.
Full review here.