Friday, August 7, 2015

August's Book of the Month--All the Bright Places

For August, we’ll look at ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES, by Jennifer Niven.

I found this wonderful story to be uplifting and heartbreaking in equal measure. What was most striking to me about it is the contrasting trajectories of the two main characters, Violet and Finch. They first meet upon the ledge of a bell tower, each of them contemplating a jump. Finch, as is clear pretty early on, is bipolar, and Violet is the survivor of a car accident that killed her older sister.

In one of his "awake" phases, Finch does his best to charm Violet (of course he has a crooked smile!) and he eventually succeeds. Through his attention and energy, he allows Violet to begin to live again--to break out of her self-imposed stasis and mourning and realize she will not be betraying the beloved sister who cannot grow with her. Finch, meanwhile, becomes more and more unpredictable as he senses himself moving towards a "sleep" period. He eventually takes to his closet to wait out this inevitable dark time, beyond the reach of anything Violet can do for him.

Above all, Niven's portrayal of mental illness rings true. Her high school setting and supporting characters worked for me, as well as the plot device of exploring the great state of Indiana for a social studies class.

I just read this week that this book will be made into a feature film.

Have you read ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES, by Jennifer Niven?

What do you think?

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