All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven — a review
There are moments in life that alter the way you view things indefinitely. This transpired yesterday as I thumbed through the stacks at my neighborhood library. I was on a mission. This mission was to find a story, something amazing to engage the brain of my fifteen year old. Joseph suffers from ADHD. Finding books that will grab Joseph’s attention holding it in place till the last page have to be special. Ever found a winning lottery ticket in the middle of the sidewalk? Uh huh. Welcome to my world.
I grabbed “Me Earl and The Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews off the shelf. Right next to it was a brightly colored book, whose illustrations portray a conversation occurring one note after the other about the possibility of having a perfect day. “All The Bright Places”Jennifer Niven pulled me in hook, line and sinker.
“Is this a good day to die?”
Those words set the story into motion. It’s a story about a boy named Finch and a girl named Violet. I have read many novels that fit in the young adult category. As an editor for www.ipinionsyndicate.com, I comb the internet for teens and young adults, imploring them to find the voice behind their words and use it to write columns. The characters that Jennifer Niven created in Finch and Violet are exactly the children I comb the internet for, kids who need to find an outlet for their thoughts and feelings. It’s an outlet they need before they implode from holding all the hurt, angst and suffering that comes with the transition from childhood to adulthood. Violet is a writer, a blogger. Violet is one of my kids.
From the moment I picked this book up, I didn’t put it back down. I continued to read until 2 A.M. (Quite a feat for a forty two year old who is snoring at 8:30!) I continued to read while eating Chinese dumplings — I kept the book open on the counter while I washed the dishes. I shut my phone off. (GASP!) Curled up under my cozy blanket and let Ms. Niven through the gorgeousness of her writing rip my heart out of my chest by the last page, putting it back with every residual crack from my teens healed.
This is a story of love. This is a story of pain, pain so profound it knocks your breath away. This is a story of mental illness, of inescapable sadness. This story sheds light on every darkened corner of the teen years, breaks away the barriers and grabs all those secret, ugly places by the throat forcing them to be addressed. Gorgeous is the only way to describe the way Ms. Niven intertwines our hearts and souls with these characters, though “lovely” would be the word of preference for Finch and Violet.
If you are the parent of a teen, you need to read this book. If you are a teen, you need to read this book. Really there is no reading audience that would not benefit from this diamond on paper.
I handed the story to Joseph as I headed out the door this morning. He grumbled about the reading assignment as he pulled the book under the blankets that is the cave of his summer.
I have no doubt — Ms. Niven will engage my boy. Her words are magic.
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- June 25, 2015 at 8:36 am