[564]: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven


All the Bright Places / Jennifer Niven

Back when I started seeing reviews for My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga, I was incensed at the fact that YA books seemed to be finding dangerous ways to make light of something as serious as teen suicide. I said that I will never read this book because reading about one suicidal teen is bad enough, but reading about two of them will make me feel even more helpless. Hopeless. I cannot grapple with the fact that kids around the world are probably making such a pact with each other. Days later, this happened in my hometown. Shit just got real.

I have no idea what I was in for when I finally decided to read this book. I knew it made a lot of people cry. I also knew the characters met on a ledge with suicide in their minds. I’ve never given much thought as to how it would end, so I didn’t have any warning when I got to that part. My heart was beaten to a bloody pulp; slivered into a million pieces. This is the kind of book that  inspires poetry. Unfortunately, I don’t quite have the words for it.

People saw Finch and they only saw a freak. Because he said the oddest of things and he did what he wanted to do. He dressed like a how he felt, and did things that made him, “Finch”. But when Violet looked at him, she saw a brilliant boy. A boy whose mind raced at its own speed that it seemed like every other part of him struggled to keep up. No one saw that side of Finch, however. No one saw the terrifyingly manic boy. The one who couldn’t seem to sit still. Most of the time, the world seemed to be too small to contain him. Everyone saw a different Finch. The one who struggled to breathe day in and day out was never in attendance. Violet was the only who saw him for what he was. And that’s because they’re kindred spirits in some ways.

Violet has her demons to slay. It seems so cruel for these two kids to meet at that place. And at the same time, righfully providential. How could one broken person mend another when they’re barely pieced together themselves? 

This book wasn’t written in the prettiest of proses. It was meant to speak at a level that could resonate with readers who needed it the most.  Because of this book, I’ve recanted my aversion to My Heart and Other Black Holes. Perhaps more for understanding as to how kids so young can feel like there’s nothing to look forward to in their futures.

GOODREADS SUMMARY | Knopf | 386 pp. | January 6th, 2015 | Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars



  • I am glad you enjoyed(?) this read, but I really do not like sad books-now that I am older, I want to be happy at the end. Don’t get me wrong-I will read a book where someone dies-but not teenagers and not as an ending-or at least what I am picturing as an ending-by way of suicide. So sad.

  • Agree! This was such a heartbreaking, but at same time utterly moving and powerful story. I read it 2-3 months ago, but it hurts only thinking about it. Wonderful review, Joy!

  • Joy, this is seriously such a gorgeous review. I’ve got a copy of this on the way as a trade, and I’m so excited to read it. But I was nervous to read your review, because what if you hated it and pointed out a bunch of things I knew I would dislike- how could I keep up my excitement for it?! But you loved it, it hit you hard, so I’m glad. I think I can predict what happens in the end, despite not knowing any spoilers, which I’m a little sad about- but I seem to be able to do this with heaps of books, lately, so I’m not overly surprised.
    Lovely, lovely review. I can understand why you might have wanted to stay away from this, but I’m glad you enjoyed it so much. xx

  • Glad this spoke to you at such a deep level Joy. It really is a sad read, and I’m just glad that all the teens/adults that have read this are more motivated to get help.

  • Even though it seems everybody has posted reviews for All the Bright Places, I’ve never read a single once. I didn’t even know what the book was about until today. You see, I have an aversion to books that pop up everywhere at once, and in this moment I’m disappointed by that. I think I definitely need to check out this book now.

  • Yaaay 😀 So glad you loved this book so much Joy. <3 I'm so curious about it. It sounds amazing. And heartbreaking. I just. If it doesn't end with both characters alive and together.. well, then I will not read it, lol :p I don't want more unhappy endings. Hmph. But anyway. So happy you loved it 😀 Thank you for sharing. <3

  • Ah! So glad to hear you enjoyed this one! I’ve been wanting to read it, but like you, I was hesitant because of what it deals with. Nonetheless, your review has me excited! I’m prepared for tears, but excited 😛

    Hafsah @ IceyBooks

  • It’s nice to know that you loved this. I’m guilty of being one of those people who cried especially after Finch. I really like the development of Violet and Finch’s relationship which is definitely one of the reasons why I cried so hard..

  • I have this book on my shelf and have been hesitant to pick it up, so thank you for your review. Teen suicide is something to have touched my life, and it’s always a triggering topic because it just makes me so sad to think of what has been lost. It’s something that needs to be talked about though, because so many shut themselves off and the reaction, in my experience (not my reaction, but others), is that when it happens, you don’t talk about it. You hide. Which is not healthy.

  • I think that you captured it, how can you help someone when you are so dark yourself, but somehow it can happen

  • I did love the writing in this book, and was really moved by Finch, but in general I have very mixed feelings about YA suicide books. Jen @ YA Romantics

  • I absolutely loved this book. It was so incredibly emotionally exhausting and I was sobbing when I finished. I am glad you decided to pick this one up and that you enjoyed it . . . although, “enjoyed” may be the wrong word.

  • I too was a bit skeptical about reading a book that made light of issues–real, serious issues–that teenagers face everyday. But after reading AtBP, I was exhausted. Emotionally exhausted. I couldn’t pick up a book for days after reading it. It just saddened me to see how nothing, nothing Violet did could save Finch, and that hurt me more than anything else about this book. I’ve always been of the naive belief that help and love can save people, give them a will to live but reading this book shattered that illusion. And that was a difficult thing to adjust to.

    Anyway, I’m not surprised that this book left you without any words to say. I am however, glad that you loved this book. Great review, Joy!

    Rhea @ Rhea’s Neon Journal

  • Oh wow! I have contemplated getting this book, but I didn’t realise how much of an emotional ride it would be! I would love to Finch through Violets eyes! Fantastic review!

    Naomi @ Naomi’s Reading Palace

  • I went into this one thinking the same Joy, how mental illness and teen suicide is almost romanticised in young adult, rather than showing the struggle and the pain of getting through each day. The highs and the devastating lows were equally as tragic, because we know that in the real world romance isn’t enough to save someone. I was surprised how raw it was, the emotion nearly destroyed me and I sobbed myself to sleep. I’m so sorry to hear about the two teens in your area Joy, absolutely tragic. I always wonder if the signs are there, but the adults in their lives are just too busy to see the change in their kids. So incredibly sad. Wonderful review Joy, I’m so glad you took a chance on this one <3

  • shootingstarsmag

    I’m glad you gave this one a chance. I haven’t read it yet, but I really do want too. It sounds really well written and with some fantastic characters. 🙂 It reminds me a bit of A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby, the idea of people meeting when they are about to commit suicide.


  • I had such a hard time with this book, and I mostly didn’t like it. I ended up giving it three stars, and I actually traded the book away. I liked the plot, and how Niven handled a lot of things in it. But for some reason, I just wanted it to be written differently. I struggled with a lot of sections because it seemed like it was getting close to being pompous.

    I might try to reread it one of these days because suicide is something we’ve dealt with in my family. I just hope I have a much better experience with a re-read.

  • This robbed you of verse? Man, must be something super good!

  • Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings

    This is such a powerful review, Joy! I can really feel your love for this book and though I was planning to skip it because I didn’t think it was for me, I’m definitely re-evaluating that decision. Thanks for putting this back on my radar and in my TBR. 🙂

  • It is for this very reasonthat I am AFRAID of reading this book. I know I will be emotionally invested in the characters. I know that bad things will happen. I know that their thoughts will resonate with many of mine, and their lives will touch me and destroy me. I’ve seen so many crying books that attest to how powerful and moving this book is. Thanks for your review, Joy! I’m still afraid to read it, afraid to feel sad and be angered, but sometimes these are the emotions we need to feel in order to take action.

    Faye at The Social Potato

  • I’ve heard so many amazing things on this, but I just can’t bring myself to read books dealing with suicide and depression. I dealt with that with my biological father, and while he never took his life, it’s still too raw for me to pursue it in books. Great review!

  • kindlemom1

    This book still makes my top ten reads for this year and I still think about it and I read an ARC of it, umm in December I think. I don’t remember but I loved it. It really was beautiful in all the right kind of ways.
    So so happy you liked it!

  • Wow wow I’m afraid to read this but I think I’m just going to have too.

  • Oh wow. I have seen so many reviews for these books and everything seems to be so positive about the story. Absolutely positive. I do have this one and own it, but I just haven’t read it yet. I am waiting for the right moment, when I know I am emotionally prepared. But I know this is going to be a hard one at times.

  • Jazmen

    I really wanna tell you how blown away I was by this but I really wasn’t. It just I don’t know. I didn’t feel that connection. I’m really glad you were able to enjoy this one. I actually liked My Heart and Other black holes better but I still wasn’t too crazy about either of them.

  • Jenny @ Supernatural Snark

    I don’t think I’m emotionally equipped to handle this one at the moment Joy, as achingly beautiful as it sounds. I’ve been in a light and fluffy place for a while now, and that shows no signs of stopping. As soon as I’m in the mood for something that will cut my heart into little pieces though, I’m diving into this. Gorgeous review my friend!

  • Nicole Hewitt

    So sad that you have a real life circumstance to connect this to. I think it’s really interesting that this book actually made you rethink another book as well – it’s so interesting how this can happen.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  • Oh wow! Beautiful review. You’ve got me intrigued. Suicide in books tend to scare me away from reading the story, but it’s real, and sadly rampant in society.

    • It is. And sad that it’s pervasive amongst young people.

  • This sounds positively heart-wrenching. We live in a very sad society at the moment. Great review Joy. 🙂

  • I really want to read this but I also don’t because I don’t really like reading books with gritty topics as it saddens me that people are actually going through things like that and, like you said, you feel helpless. Wonderful review!

    • I felt the same way when I started seeing this in the blogosphere. I wrote it off as something I don’t have the heart to read.

  • Awesome photo btw