Book Review: “All The Bright Places”


Tacey Trypus

The cover of the novel “All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven

“All The Bright Places” is a young adult fiction novel written and published by the New York Times best-selling author Jennifer Niven on Jan. 5, 2015. It is a compelling story filled with lessons on both love and loss, joy and sorrow, and how to heal and let go.

The book takes place in the fictional town of Bartlett, Ind., a small and sleepy town. It starts off with one of our main characters Theodore Finch, otherwise known as just “Finch,” standing on the ledge of the bell tower of Bartlett High School. He is a loner and is perceived as the weird kid who is constantly looked down upon. As someone who struggles with depression and is fascinated by death, he constantly is questioning whether it’s the right day to die or not. He thinks of what would happen if he were to jump from the ledge, how his classmates would react, and who would really care.

He then hears Violet Markey, who is also standing on the bell tower ledge just a few feet away, frozen in place. Violet is a quiet and nervous girl who used to be lively and popular, though she grew shy after the death of her sister, Eleanor. She used to be an avid writer and planned to go to college before falling into a deep depression and giving it up. 

Finch notices that Violet is scared, and decides to help her down from the ledge. Even though he is the one who saved her, the other students watching from below seem to think that Violet is the one who did the saving. She is perceived as a hero for saving him, and he continues to get taunted and bullied by most of his peers afterward. 

Their geography teacher gives their class an assignment to visit at least two wonders of Indiana in teams of two. Finch makes a spontaneous decision to partner with Violet, and she ends up reluctantly agreeing. This starts a chain of events that leads to them becoming friends and soon falling in love with each other. As they complete their project together, Violet learns to get out more and becomes herself again, though Finch seems to suddenly spiral into an even deeper depression. 

The book explores how both Violet and Finch need each other in different ways, and how even in the good moments, painful feelings can still overpower someone. Even when they are going through rough patches, they still try their hardest to understand each other even when they can’t. 

There is also a movie adaptation created by Netflix starring Elle Fanning as Violet and Justice Smith as Finch. Though it is an alright movie, it isn’t that accurate to the book. For example, in the book, Finch has two sisters named Kate and Decca. In the movie, they completely take out Decca and she isn’t mentioned at all. The order of the wonders that Violet and Finch visit is also somewhat changed in the movie. Because of the many inconsistencies, most people prefer the book a lot more.

It’s an emotional read that does an amazing job of not sugarcoating any of the problems that any of the characters face. The story definitely is relatable in certain aspects for many people and has just as many joyful moments as it does sad moments. It’s a book that I have re-read many times and I continue to find more things that I love about it each time.