Narrator: Ariadne Meyers, Kirby Heyborne
Published by Listening Library on January 6th 2015
Genres: Death & Dying, Depression & Mental Illness, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Length: 11 hrs. 4 min.
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. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning! 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.
Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet at the top of the school bell tower, both intending to jump. Violet is lost after the death of her sister, and Finch struggles with an undiagnosed mood disorder. Finch saves Violet, though the school assumes it’s the other way around since that behavior is not out of the norm for “Theodore Freak” Finch. Finch and Violet collaborate on a school project and he attempts to help her out of the darkness and show her “all the bright places” life has to offer.
This book had me tied up in knots! All the Bright Places is a heavy, but necessary read that addresses mental illness head on. There is a stigma attached to mental illness and I’m glad that this book is around to help provide some understanding and support.
Finch is a larger than life character that is smart, talented, and handsome, but also wildly impulsive. He seems to have bipolar disorder, living with intense highs and lows. In each chapter in Finch’s pov he keeps track of the days he is Awake. He also shares facts about suicide and quotes from Virginia Woolf. He made my heart hurt.
Violet withdraws from her everyday existence after the death of her sister. Violet’s chapters all begin with a countdown to the last day of school. She can’t bring herself to write anymore, get in a car, or to continue with plans to attend NYU. Finch makes it his mission to help Violet, and a school project takes them to the hidden wonders of Indiana. Meanwhile, the two fall hard for each other.
Kirby Heyborne and Ariadne Meyers perform the audiobook of All The Bright Places and do a terrific job. Heyborne delivers and energetic, complex performance that gets to the heart of Finch. Meyers is pitch perfect as Violet, and her voice evolves over the course of the book just like the character, becoming more outgoing and courageous. At the end of the audiobook there is a note from the author about the events that inspired the story and suicide resources. I recommend the audiobook, though in a way it was harder to digest the intense story in that format. It’s an engrossing listen, though hard to hear too if you know what I mean.
There are several YA books about suicide hitting shelves this winter. I personally need a little break before I dive more into this topic, though I think author Jennifer Niven delivers a powerful and respectful story that will resonate with readers. I love the idea of writing down your bright places on post-it’s as Violet and Finch do in the book. You can share your “bright places” and find out more about the book here: http://allthebrightplaces.tumblr.com