Sunday, 26 June 2016

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES BY JENNIFER NIVEN - REVIEW

All the Bright Places, a book that ripped my heart out, stomped on it and then set it on fire.


All the Bright Places is a book that, to me, is a refreshing and heartbreaking-ly realistic depiction of death, it's impact and mental health. As someone who has their own mental health issues I was intrigued by the premise and reviews of this book. It follows the lives of Violet Markey and Theodore Finch after they meet on their school's bell tower. From here all the feelings ensue.

I'll put it simply, Violet and Finch and their friendship completed and destroyed me. One minute I was squealing in fangirl joy, but by the end I was sobbing my heart out and wishing I could consume my body weight in ice cream and vodka.

I wish this was an exaggeration but this book was an absolute emotional rollercoaster. This book is equal parts addictive and agonising and I was torn between throwing it against the wall and hugging it to myself because it was so adorable at times.

Lets not forget what this book is about though, death, and more importantly, mental health issues. I finished this book not only with a greater understanding of my own mental health issues but a happy feeling of an author actually gets it. It's all too common that protagonists in books are impenetrable forces of nature. Bad guys? Pah! Emotional manipulation? Whatever. Torture of themselves and/or loved ones? Child's play, bring on more action and death and fighting. I'm not effected by anything! It's a cliche I've become increasingly tired of, being a person who isn't particularly good at dealing with things and with my own issues. Fact is, even the most badass person cannot and will not be able to handle everything that comes at them, so I was extremely happy that Niven crafted what is, to me, such a great depiction of the reality of mental health, one that doesn't use mental health as a 'interesting character feature' and little else.

What I really loved, but also hated, was the nature of Violet and Finch's relationship. It was flawed yet beautiful, they helped and hindered each other, just like any normal relationship. I could see myself in both characters, which is perhaps while I had such intense emotions towards it. This book is extremely sobering, it's so real and unapologetic that when I finished reading, (after I had stopped sobbing my heart out), I had a long hard think about my own issues as well as the lack of support, knowledge and information for mental health issues, but most importantly the lack of sympathy or understanding of them (which is presented so well with Finch's family, the bastards).

I don't what else to say about this book without giving away basically all the plot, but I highly recommend it as a fairly accurate depiction of teenage mental health struggles. I respect Niven so much for capturing the 'realness' of mental health and the ups and downs that come from it and the added complications of being a teenager. Just be sure to have tissues if you're a massive wuss like me.

Rating: ★★★★


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