A few weeks ago, I finished All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. All the Bright Places is a 388 paged realistic fiction novel that was published in 2015. Jennifer Niven writes both nonfiction and fiction. All the Bright Places was her first teen realistic fiction novel. I read this book because it was recommended to me by a few of my friends, I saw it at Barnes & Noble and liked the way it sounded.
Violet Markey and Theodore Finch meet on a six-story high bell tower ledge at school. Each person saves the other from leaping to their death. After teaming up for a class project to see the “natural wonders” of Indiana, the unlikely pair start to need each other; realizing that they can only be their true selves when their together. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s starts to shrink.
Finch, one of the main characters in the book, is kind of a complex person. He doesn’t really understand himself, making it even more difficult for Violet to understand him. Finch tries to hide the “scary” or “frightening” parts of him from Violet, because he doesn’t want her to see how broken and unfixable he is. But when Violet does, she realizes she’s just as broken and unfixable as Finch, which kind of makes them a difficult, yet perfect, pair.
One of those memorable scenes in the book for me is on page 154, when Finch brings Violet to the library in the middle of the night where his mom works, and they read a whole bunch of Dr.Seuss books. This part shows how happy they are in that moment and as the reader, I felt how it would’ve felt to be there with them or as them: full of laughter and enjoyment.
“I expect some fast reply, something flirty and flip, but instead he doesn’t look up, just reached for my hand and keeps reading. I can feel the apology in his fingers, and this takes the wind out of me, so I lean into him -just a little- and and read over his shoulder. His hand is warm and I don’t want to stop holding it.
We eat one-handed and read our way through the stack, and then we start reading aloud from Dr. Seuss – Oh, the Places You’ll Go! We alternate stanzas, first Finch, then me, Finch, then me.
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
At some point, Finch gets to his feet and starts acting it out. He doesn’t need the book because he knows the words by heart, and I forget to read because it’s more fun watching him, even when the words and his voice turn serious as he recites lines about dark places and useless places and waiting places, where people don’t do anything but wait.
Then his voice turns light again and he is singing the words.
You’ll find the bright places.
Where Boom Bands are playing.
He pulls me to my feet.
With banner flip-flapping,
Once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
The two of us are doing our own version of flip-flopping, which is a kind of leaping over things – the beanbags, the rug, the other books. We sing the last lines together- Your mountain is waiting. So . . . get on your way!– and end in a heap on the floor, candlelight dancing across us, laughing like we’ve lost our minds.”
The author, Jennifer Niven, wrote this passage with a lot of emotion and feelings. As a reader, I love when authors add a lot of emotion to certain parts of the book because you get to feel everything that the characters are feeling, and also what the author wants you to feel.. In this passage, the two main characters are reading out loud stanzas from Dr. Seuss books. The emotional connection between the two grows, which creates more tension between them, which makes the scene a better read.
Out of ten, I would give this book a 9 ½. I really loved everything about the book, except for the ending. The ending was extremely frustrating because it’s not how I wanted the book to end. It was extremely unpredictable -which I kind of liked- but extremely sad and infuriating. Otherwise, this is one of my favorite books and highly recommend it.