Every so often a book comes out that is so important, and beautifully written, and I just want to shove it into everyone's hands. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is that book for me right now. I don't even think I'm going to able to properly put my feelings into words, but I'll try.
From Goodreads: 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.
My thoughts: What I loved most about this book was that there wasn't a huge focus on labels. There was a short piece about Finch possibly being bipolar, but that was not the focus. This is important because people need to realize that depression is an illness. It's not a character flaw, it's not someone just being sad because they got a bad grade, it's a sickness. I hate hearing about people dismissing feelings because they assume the person is just sad or looking for attention. Mental illness is much more than that.
This book has the potential to start a discussion. I'm not sure how I feel about it becoming a movie, however, I do feel like (if done correctly), the book could start a discussion about teen mental illness that is so needed and important. Mental illness is often suffered in silence, and it doesn't have to be.
I hope people will read this book. While marketed as a young adult novel, it should be read by everyone. Yes, it's sad and heartbreaking and will knock you down, but it will make you think and reassess your thinking process. Perhaps you'll look at those "sad people" differently, of if you're suffering from a mental illness, I hope you realize that you're not alone.
All the Bright Places is about mental illness and suicide, but ultimately, it's about hope and life, and making the most of the time we're given; even if it's just a short time.