All the Bright Places

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All the Bright Places
All the Bright Places.jpg
Author Jennifer Niven
Audio read by Ariadne Meyers, Jennifer Niven, Kirby Heyborne
Country United States
Language English
Genre Young adult fiction
Published January 6, 2015
Publisher Knopf Publishing Group
Media type Print (hardback, paperback), e-book, audiobook
Pages 388 pages
ISBN 0385755880
Preceded by American Blonde

All the Bright Places is a 2015 young adult novel by Jennifer Niven. The work was first published on January 6, 2015 through Knopf Publishing Group and is Niven's first young adult work.[1] A film adaptation starring Elle Fanning is currently in pre-production and will release in 2018 or 2019.[2]

Plot Summary[edit]

Theodore Finch and Violet Markey are two teenagers who want to escape from their small Indiana town. Violet is a popular girl who's secretly dealing with survivor's remorse, and Finch is a boy obsessed with death, labelled a freak by other students. Fate brought the two together when both climbed the bell tower at school at the same time, planning to jump off the ledge. Finch is surprised that Violet is up there, because she’s a popular school cheerleader. But Violet has been dealing with the death of her sister, Eleanor, for which she feels responsible. Eleanor died in a car accident, and Violet hasn’t been in a car since. She quit the student council, then cheerleading, and now cares about absolutely nothing. On the ledge, Finch talks Violet down, and Violet returns the favor.

As for Finch, he is depressed and experiences near-constant thoughts of suicide. Morbidly, he writes out fun facts about other people’s suicides in his journal. He initiates a partnership between himself and Violet for a school project in which they will explore their home state of Indiana together. Later at home, Finch thinks about Violet, looking her up on Facebook, reading about her sister’s accident (which he had forgotten) and chatting online with her. Finch’s family does not understand his depression, so he feels isolated.

For their project, Finch and Violet travel around their state to see important or unusual sites. They see homemade roller coasters, the highest hill in Indiana, and more. The important thing doesn’t seem to be the sites themselves, but what the wandering begins to mean for both of them—especially Violet. The two begin a romantic relationship and fall in love. Eventually, Finch becomes a kind of mentor and counselor for Violet. He helps her begin to talk about her sister’s death, which her parents have not managed to do. He inspires her to travel in a car again and begin writing again, things she had avoided for nine months. As a result, Violet begins to heal.

Finch, however, is getting worse. He suffers from an undiagnosed bipolar disorder and therefore deals with very high highs and very low lows. His behavior demonstrates the characteristic manic periods of impulsive excitability as well as the lethargic, pointless mindset during the depressive periods. He is also beaten by his father and bullied at school. The one shining spot in his life is his blossoming relationship with Violet.

One afternoon, they have sex in the backseat of Finch's car before going wandering again. They accidentally stay out until the next morning. Violet’s parents are angry, forbidding their daughter from seeing Finch again.

This begins a downward spiral for Finch, who ends up getting expelled from school. Although he still sees Violet on occasion, Finch is easily able to hide his worsening depression from her. Violet doesn’t realize the seriousness of the situation and wonders if Finch is losing interest in her.

One particularly bad night, Finch decides to end his life. He takes a handful of sleeping pills, but almost immediately regrets it. He goes to the emergency room and gets his stomach pumped. After that, he tries to get help through a suicide support group in a nearby town. There, he runs into Amanda, another girl he knows from school. She is concerned about Finch’s suicide attempt and tells Violet about it. Violet is obviously worried and tries to help. Finch explodes, and the two get in a big fight.

Finch runs away from home, and only Violet seems to be looking for him. He sends her mysterious texts while he visits the remainder of the locations for their unfinished project, but Violet doesn’t understand them until much later.

[spoiler below]

A month after he has disappeared, Finch sends an email to every single person he knows, saying goodbye. Violet, in a panic, figures out that he has drowned himself at the Blue Hole, one of their wandering sites. She goes there and discovers she is right, and she becomes distraught. Later, she manages to decode the texts Finch had sent her, and at the last location they were supposed to visit together, Finch wrote a song for her. This helps the healing process, and convinces Violet that Finch’s suicide was not her fault. The book closes with Violet going swimming by herself in the Blue Hole, where she went swimming with Finch, bringing her a sense of peace.

Reception[edit]

The New York Times favorably compared All the Bright Places to Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park and John Green's The Fault in Our Stars in that "Violet and Finch are the archetypal offering in contemporary young adult fiction: a pair of damaged, heart-tugging teenagers who are at once outcasts and isolated, trapped by the dissonant alchemy of their combined fates."[3] Entertainment Weekly and The Guardian both gave ultimately favorable reviews for the work,[4] with The Guardian writing "Niven’s first foray into Young Adult fiction lacks narrative tension but has plenty of emotional heft".[1]

The novel won the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult fiction.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bradman, Tony. "All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven review – an intense portrayal of teenage angst". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Kroll, Justin. "Elle Fanning to Star in Adaptation of YA Novel 'All the Bright Places' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  3. ^ Smith, Andrew. "Jennifer Niven's 'All the Bright Places'". New York Times. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  4. ^ VILKOMERSON, SARA. "All The Bright Places (review)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  5. ^ "The 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards". goodreads.com. 

External links[edit]