All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

If you haven't heard of this book, you must either have no connection to the web, or live under a rock. I discovered All The Bright Places through YouTube, with the likes of Zoella and Tanya Burr raving about it. I ended up buying it in the Boxing Day sales, along with some other books that I'm working my way through, and it sat on my shelf for the next six months, completely untouched. I know what you're thinking, "but Olivia, you're an English student, you're supposed to love reading." I do love reading! I love it a lot, which is why I didn't read it during my final semesters at University. Reading for pleasure and reading for your studies are two very different things, and I just didn't want to get the two mixed up! But now that I've finished and thoroughly enjoyed this book, I can join in on the love fest that surrounds it. If you haven't read it, then I'll do my absolute best to not include any spoilers.

So, All The Bright Places is a coming-of-age-esque story centred around a boy, Theodore Finch, and a girl, Violet Markey, as they work on a school project together, exploring Indiana. However, this is not your average boy meets girl plot, as the main themes of this story focus on mental health, suicide and past trauma, with bullying and high school relationships thrown into the mix. With all of this in mind, you can probably guess that the road for the two main characters is bumpy as they work towards finding their bright places. I actually read this book in one sitting, in the space of about 5 hours, and I genuinely can't remember the last time a book gripped me that much.

One thing I absolutely adored about the book is the way that it is written. Niven has the most gorgeous style of writing that is both easy to read, but also John Green-ish in the way that she describes things and in her characters speech. I'd seen a few reviews prior to reading that said it's a lot like The Fault In Our Stars, which I can see, purely through the writing style though, not the story. But like TFIOS, All The Bright Places is one of those books that you can imagine people quoting on Tumblr, if you know what I mean. What I really loved about Niven's writing though, is that she often switches characters with each chapter, giving us an insight into both of their perspectives and how their minds work. I think that this is what really allowed me to fall in love with them just a little bit more. I have to say though, that out of the two of them, Violet was my favourite and the person that I felt I could relate to the most. At first, Finch was my favourite, with his little quirks and the way he talked about Violet, which Niven wrote so beautifully. But it was definitely Violet that held my heart, and I found myself constantly willing her on. Despite my preference for her, I really enjoyed both of their developments and watching their relationship grow. Honestly, I think I'm biggest Finlet shipper out there (is that even a thing? It really should be). I found the adults in the book to be insufferable, though. I felt like I wanted to give Finch's mum a shake at some points, and say some strong words to his counsellor. 
Without getting too much into the story. this book is an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least. At times, I found myself laughing at Finch's little quips and flirting attempts, and then other times, I was fighting back the tears. Although I had some idea of what was going to happen in the end, there were still elements to it that I didn't predict and it tore at my heartstrings nonetheless. So if you're looking for a tearjerker, then trust me, this is your book. Despite all the emotions that this book brought, I found it extremely inspirational. As soon as I finished it, I had a quiet moment, internally telling myself that I needed to do more things to make me happy. To put it short, this book is the reason why I started to blog again, not only because of Violet's blog (which, it turns out, is an actual site!), but because it used to be one my bright places.

Some of you may be pleased to know that this is a completely clean book, in that the sex is kept to a minimum. Any sex scenes that do occur are faded out into the next scene, so the characters have their privacy and we don't have to read about two teenagers getting it on. If that's something that makes you uncomfortable or that you find triggering, I can promise you, you don't see anything at all.

As well as reading the novel, I also read Niven's author's note at the end, which I don't normally do. I wanted to see if I could find out about more books from Niven, but instead, I found out that the story is extremely personal to her and is based on true events. I even welled up whilst reading it, so it definitely is worth looking at if you haven't already. Overall, I think the resounding message of the story and the author's note together is that you are not alone.

In short, it's hard-hitting, heartbreaking, funny, raw and beautiful. It tackles a serious topic perfectly, through the eyes of young people in a modern age. I believe a film adaptation is currently in the works, which will be so amazing, but in the meantime, can we please have a sequel, Jennifer Niven? I'd say that if you're a fan of John Green or David Levithan, then do give this book a go. If you've read it before, please let me know what you think!

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