All the Bright Places has been showing up in a lot of places lately. I saw it at the library. I noticed reviews of it online from people I trust. I saw comparisons of it to other books I really liked — I’ll Give You the Sun and Eleanor & Park, to name a few. So I knew I had to add it to the list.
And I’m glad I did. It really was lovely.
And sad. Did I mention it was sad? Because it was really, really sad.
Violet and Finch go to the same ginormous high school. They don’t really know each other, but they know of each other. Finch knows who Violet is because Violet’s sister died in a car accident the year before. Violet knows who Finch is because EVERYONE knows who Finch is, but nobody really knows Finch, if you know what I mean. Finch is the kid who gets in trouble all the time, who dresses like a freak, who comes and goes as he pleases. And Violet gets good grades and wants to be a writer. So their paths don’t really cross.
Until they find themselves standing across from each other at the top of the school’s bell tower, both thinking about what it would be like to jump.
Finch and Violet slowly become friends, working on a class project together, which of course leads to them becoming something more than friends. And like most realistic teenage relationships, you know right away that this isn’t going to end well, and that one, or both of these beautiful characters is going to get hurt.
The writing of this book is simply lovely. Jennifer Niven’s gave each character a distinctive voice, so that when the narrative switched from Violet to Finch, it was always a smooth transition. And the adults were really well drawn too — they weren’t just stereotypical high school characters. Finch’s parents, Violet’s parents, and the guidance counselors at the school were all important and realistic, no matter how small a part they played, no matter whether or not their actions were brutally horrible or brutally supportive.
And yes, I cried. I knew I was going to, and I did. But I’m glad I did, as it was a cathartic cry, and I felt better about the book after the tears dried.