Book Review: All The Bright Places

By Olivia Merrick

One of the most difficult parts of being an avid reader is finding an outstanding book after you’ve finished reading a book you regard to be the best novel you’ve ever read. And I’ve found that the most difficult shoes to fill, when it comes to finding the perfect tale to steal your heart, are the ones that belong to contemporary, romantic novels. An excellent example of the ultimate Heather of this genre is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I never thought I would find a book that would steal my heart, only to absolutely obliterate it, yet leave me with a complete sense of contentment, quite like that book did. And then I stumbled across All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.

All the Bright Places follows two high school teenagers, Violet Markey and Theodore Finch, who find each other on top of the bell tower at their school, ready to jump off and put an end to all of their pain, only to save each other. After being paired up for a project in their U.S. Geography class, Violet and Finch explore their home state of Indiana together, and all the while Finch teaches Violet how to live, when all he wants to do is die.

From the moment you open the book, both Violet and Finch instantly nab a part of your heart. The two of them are so easy to love and root for, even when they’re at their lowest, as Violet suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; and Finch, bipolar disorder and suicidal tendencies. Because the perspective in this book jumps back and forth between Violet and Finch, I felt a deep, vested connection to both of them, something that’s extremely difficult to achieve in less than four hundred pages. I couldn’t put the book down because I simply couldn’t step away from this story, but more so, the two protagonists. They pair so well together, always able to effortlessly play off of each other, no matter the situation.

And although this book may not have the romantic, Shakespearean style romantic tragedy that The Fault in Our Stars does, it does have something that easily makes up for it, as well as makes it the better out of the two novels. One of the things that I loved so much about All The Bright Places was that it felt grounded in reality, like the type of thing you would see on your own high school campus. Cancer is something people hear about all of the time, but the chance of you, as a reader, having cancer and finding a star crossed lover in your support group is slim to none. However, the likelihood of you, as a reader, suffering from a mental illness that might make you contemplate whether life’s truly worth living, and still fighting to save those you care about even in your darkest of times is much closer to the reality many of us live. And that’s what All The Bright Places so wonderfully captures.

This book made me laugh and shed a few tears, so grab a box of tissues if you decide to give it a read. It also reminded me of some very important life lessons. You have to be willing to forgive yourself for mistakes you’ve made. You have to keep fighting through the darkest of days in order to earn some of the brightest. But most importantly, you have the power to change someone else’s life for the better, even when you don’t feel worth the fight. 

So with all of that said, I recommend you read this book with every fiber in my body. It will truly change your life and the way you look at the world around you. And hey, if you aren’t a book reader, there is a Netflix movie based on the book, which isn’t as good as the book, but still worth a watch. But if you’re afraid you’ll never find a book you loved as much as something else you’ve read, I can reassure you that this book will fill that hole in your heart.