Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Books I've Loved: All the Bright Places
I just finished this book last night and had to write about it here today because it's the first time in a long time a book has surprised me this much in a long time. Something happens about two-thirds of the way through that was, for me, totally unexpected. I won't tell you what because that would ruin the book for you, but wow...
The characters are interesting and hyper-intelligent. I know some people feel that this kind of teen is unrealistic, and yes, they probably are. But they're so much fun to read. I guess at heart I wish I could have been that smart and articulate as a teen (or now). But here, the smart, quirky dialogue spouted by these characters actually masks the reality lurking underneath.
Both Finch and Violet are damaged. They're both struggling through their own crises without any support or even recognition from the adults around them. Finch, especially. I know a lot of people will dismiss this book because of this, feeling that the characters exist solely to represent depressed, mentally ill kids everywhere.
I disagree. I feel this is a very accurate portrayal of mental illness in literature. Especially teenage mental illness where the person suffering from it may not understand or recognize that what he or she is feeling is, in fact, an illness. And at a time when kids and parents are growing increasing more separate, even attentive parents could miss the signs, let alone a struggling mother with two jobs and an absentee father with a second family and a history of violence.
Violet's parents are more present than Finch's, but having lost one daughter, they're struggling with their own demons and their instinct to be both over-protective of Violet and to not smother her with their fears.
I don't expect everyone to like this book. It's heavy in many ways. But boy is it good.
If you don't believe me, here's the blurb:
The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.