All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Published: January 6, 2015 by Knopf
Goodreads Summary: The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this compelling, exhilarating, and beautiful 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.
This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.
Ricki’s Review: A publishing representative who I deem to be a friend pressed this book into my hand. “Read it,” she insisted. She told me I would want to curl up into a ball in my bed and fall into this book. I fell hard. The writing is incredible. I hate to compare books with others because it creates a sense of expectation that often goes unfulfilled for future readers, but I couldn’t help but consider comparisons with my all-time favorite YA texts. The quirky nature of the characters reminded me of Pudge, Alaska, Charlie, Eleanor, and Park. The direction of the plot reminded me of other titles (which will remain unnamed to prevent spoilers). But I cannot compare this book to others because while it allowed to me reminisce about my favorite titles, it was quite different. The deep, honest, hard-hitting depiction of mental illness was enough to take my breath away. I felt rage that made me want to punch my mattress; I felt sadness that made me feel a hopeless sense of emptiness; but above all, I felt the power of love, loyalty, and friendship that made my heart both ache and swell. This is an unforgettable book. I suspect it will be the book that everyone will be talking about this year and for years to come.
Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Mental illness and bullying are pervasive in our schools. We can’t teach enough books about these themes because they are incredibly relevant for young people. As a former teacher, I was jealous of the teacher who created the assignment for Violet and Finch, and I wanted to do it with my former students. It would be so neat to duplicate this project while students read the book. Additionally, I think students would benefit from creating their own version of the post-it collages that Violet and Finch make. As an alternative, I would consider having students research the warning signs of suicide and finding these instances in the text. There are so many themes for the students to consider, the teaching categories at the top and tags at the bottom of this post show a variety of different directions a teacher might take with the instruction of this text.
Discussion Questions: What is the end message of this book? What is the author’s purpose?; What foreshadowing does Niven provide?; How do Violet’s family members show their grief in different ways?; Do you agree with the ending? Would you change it? Why do you think Niven ended the book in the way she did?
We Flagged: “It’s my experience that people are a lot more sympathetic if they can see you hurting, and for the millionth time in my life I wish for measles or smallpox or some other easily understood disease just to make it easier on me and also on them.”
**Please note: The above quotation is from an advanced reader copy. The quotation may change in the final published form of the text.**
Read This If You Loved: Looking for Alaska by John Green, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson, Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King, Burn by Suzanne Phillips