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Monday, January 12, 2015

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven



Release Date - January 2015

Jennifer Niven
Knopf

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

There are a few things I can say about All the Bright Places with a level of certainty. First, this book is amazing, not easy, but amazing. Second, it's not surprising Hollywood has noticed the story's potential for becoming a blockbuster movie and has already cast Elle Fanning. Third, it's going to be a while before I get over Finch and Violet.

Finch and Violet meet in the six-story bell tower on their high school campus. Finch, referred to as his peers as "the Freak," knows why he's up there, but Violet is a popular girl, everyone loves her, and Finch knows one thing, she's terrified. He talks her down from the ledge and then covers for her by saying she went up to stop him from jumping. With her reputation intact, Violet is free to go on with her life, but that one event changed both her and Finch. They begin working on a class project that involves touring their area, seeing sites they've never visited before.

Thus begins an unusual, refreshing friendship that will forever change both teens.

Clearly from the opening, suicide and suicide prevention have their place in this book. I hate saying it, but most readers will know someone or know of someone who has killed him or herself, thought about it, or attempted it. Statistics are too high for this not to be true. Sadly, I know more people than I really should, be it either personally or as someone my kids or siblings knew. Given that, the emotional tug-of-war within this story is captured magnificently by Jennifer Niven.

Violet and Finch go through tremendous growth in All the Bright Places. They start out uncertain of the world around them, of who their true friends are, and learn, mainly by leaning on each other, that there is joy to be found if you simply take the time to look. Yet, with every page, every minute, I found myself learning more and more about these characters. I cried, I snickered, I cried some more, and I found myself wanting to hug my own kids after finishing this book. This is definitely a Kleenex-needed book and one that I think will make an exceptional movie.



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