All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Release Date: January 6, 2015
I am going to let you in on a secret…this is the first review for 2015 but I already know that it is going to hit the best of 2015 list. It’s just that good.
All the Bright Places follows two teens as they grapple with high school, love, domestic violence, loss and suicide. Stay with me! Despite all the big topics the book covers, it manages to be uplifting.
Told in alternating points of view, the book shows just how difficult mental illness can be. Having two perspectives means that the author is able to show the multifaceted nature of mental illness. On one hand there’s Violet Markey, a girl who has experienced the loss of a family member. On the other hand is Theodore Finch, a boy battling demons that seem to be more innate than situational.
Niven is aware of all the stigma attached to naming mental illness and handles the conversation adeptly. The reader falls for the characters long before specific diagnoses are introduced. Perhaps the experiences in the book ring so true because they are, in part, the author’s own. In the author’s note we learn that Niven had a young friend who ultimately lost his battle with depression.
Run, don’t walk to pick this book up for every one you know. I dare you to read this one without crying.
Check out other books I’ve reviewed that discuss mental illness and psychological troubles:
- Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
- The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
- Sybil Exposed:The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case by Debbie Nathan
- Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer