To See the Bright Places – BOOK REVIEW

The first installment in our new series: A GOOD BOOK

Allison Berryhill

Junior Katie Birge chose “All the Bright Places” by Jennifer NIven as her submission to the new AHS series: A GOOD BOOK. Have you read a good book? Submit your essay to [email protected]

Katie Birge

Warning: There are spoilers ahead!

If we didn’t lose people, we would never know how important they really are to us. That is the message I hold from one of my favorite books: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. This book takes us through an unforgettable relationship between two characters, Theodore Finch and Violet Markey. It is a memorable story with a heart-wrenching ending that I first read in my freshman year of high school. The feelings I experienced while reading this book have lingered on ever since then. All the Bright Places is a great book because it has lovable characters, makes the reader feel deeply, and brings awareness to suicidal thoughts and mental illness.

If we don’t love the characters we are reading about, we are less likely to read the book. All the Bright Places has characters whose chemistry with each other is admirable. Their first meeting starts with them trying to save each other from jumping off a bell tower on the school grounds. This star-crossed meeting develops into a relationship of opposites. Violet is a popular rule-follower, devastated by the death of her sister and trying to find her way through her grief. Finch, on the other hand, is a loner struggling to find reasons to live. After the two of them become friends, Finch shows Violet wonderful places. These different places, unique in their own way, gives Violet (and the readers) a new perspective on life. 

Whether it’s sorrow or glee, it never misses a chance to pull at your heartstrings.

— Katie Birge

This brings me to the second reason why All the Bright Places is a good book. All the Bright Places make the reader feel strong emotions. Whether it’s sorrow or glee, it never misses a chance to pull at your heartstrings. This book has a push-pull factor in it. Whenever you felt hope, you still felt dread. This keeps you invested in the story. You wish for both Violet and Finch to find happiness through each other. Every emotion I have felt while reading this book has been something I could never forget. There were times I would have to stop reading because the emotions I felt were too much for me to handle. Despite me needing to put the book down because of the strong emotions, it was too good of a book to stop reading.

All the Bright Places shows what it’s like to have suicidal thoughts, and what some of the signs are by using the character Finch as an outlet. The first line in All the Bright Places is: “Is today a good day to die?” Right away we understand that Finch is struggling mentally. Throughout the book, we get concerning signs from Finch that he needs help. In the end, Finch commits suicide. I somehow could see it coming, but despite this awful insight, I continued to hope for him. Every time Violet and Finch had a connection moment, I would think Will this be enough for you to live, Finch? 

I cried for at least a week after finishing the book. Each night I would think about everything Finch went through and how hard he fought to stay in what he calls a “shitty, messed-up world.” Despite my desperateness for him to live, Finch’s world kept shrinking. And it got to the point that he could not see a way out. This journey we are brought on with Finch raises awareness about suicidal signs. People who are suffering from suicidal thoughts and feelings could realize they need help when they read All the Bright Places. I hope that if that were to happen, they will reach out to someone who can help them. In fact, suicide hotline information is included at the close of the book.

True to its name, it makes you realize the bright places in your life and why you should stay in this world.

— Katie Birge

Overall, All the Bright Places is a book I recommend for everyone. Everyone should be educated about suicide, the signs, the symptoms, and the effects it has on people who have lost someone because of it. All the Bright Places doesn’t just educate you about suicide, but it shows you what it’s like. That’s why I feel it is such an important book to read. True to its name, it makes you realize the bright places in your life and why you should stay in this world. I just wish Finch could have seen all the bright places in his life too and continued on because of them.