Skip to main content

Standout Book: All The Bright Places



When I picked up All The Brightest Places, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I nearly skipped putting it on my reading list, but I’m glad I decided to grab it. This story has become one of my favorite books because it checks off all the boxes in my top three important categories- plot, characters, and overall writing quality. I’m usually satisfied if a book can nail two. 
The basis of the storyline is that Violet and Finch meet on top of the school bell tower. They are both on the edge because of traumatic issues that consume their lives. While neither of them are serious about jumping that day, it opens a dialogue that grows into friendship over the course of a school project that requires the pair to see the highlights of Indiana. Through the silly stops and random places, they get to know each other, and, through that, start to heal. 
So, Box 1- the Characters:
One word. AMAZING! The book is told in split POV between Violet and Finch (more on that later). With Finch, the reader can feel his emotions and truly see the world through his eyes. He’s a bit sarcastic, a dreamer, an outsider who owns who he is, and unstable. And these traits manifest in many different ways over the course of the book. Another intriguing facet of Finch is that he both despises and is fully attached to labels. While he creates almost characters for himself to play that corresponds with his style of dress and subsequently labels them (Slacker Finch, British Finch…), he refuses to accept a label for any mental illness he might have. He feels like a real, living, breathing person who admits to not having it all figured out, and he’s okay with that. His honesty and his approach to being an outsider makes him one of my favorite characters.
Violet is also great. She realistically struggles with piecing her life back together after the loss of her older sister in a car crash Violet survives. She brings her own unique and relatable perspective to the table and is easy to identify with as well. I also identified with how she counted down the days till she thought her life would begin. She struggled with living in the present, and watching her learn helped me. 
It is also worth mentioning that the supporting cast of characters are all well rounded and feel complete. 

Box 2- The Plot:
Wow. Niven is able to wind the story of these two characters beautifully and realistically. Every step forward they take is facilitated properly and often propelled by a stop in their Wanderings project. Each places teaches a different lesson or cements the growth of a common theme. Finch learns from Violet that there is real happiness out there, and, for a minute, the thought of ending it all passes out of his head. He doesn't mention someone who has done it or a method to do it. As for Violet, she learns to start living in the present. He pushes her comfort zone in the most healing, positive way. Finch says things that no one else will because he doesn't treat her with the kid gloves everyone else wears. We see in the chapter headings that Violet stops counting the days until she leaves her tiny town and starts living in the present.
While the ending, which even though I saw it coming was still shocking, I wish it didn't have to end that way. Though it says something that it remained in my good graces even when it didn't play out the way I wanted. And that is because it had a reason and a conclusion. Niven did it with purpose and created a satisfying final set of chapters after the fact. For some reason, I just couldn't bring myself to be mad- though I cried quite a bit.

Box 3: The Writing:
If the wheels of a books don't fall off at plot, this is usually where it goes down, but, for Niven, she soars. The writing is true to each voice. Violet and Finch sound like two completely different people, and I knew who was narrating without looking at the chapter heading. It also counts for something that both voices telling the story were engaging. (I usually find myself flipping ahead to see when my favorite narrator will make an appearance again, but not this time). 
The way the words fall seems effortless yet not easy in a boring way. She paints the perfect picture in every scene giving just enough information without inundating the reader. This way each person develops the picture organically like getting to know a real person.
Conclusion:

So, clearly, I loved this book. That’s why I’ve decided to feature it for this week’s book stack winner. It was a story that reached a depth that few books scratch. The story struck a chord that made you cry when tragedy happens in a way that you only do if the author has managed to invest you in it. I cared about these people. I saw myself in elements of each of the narrators. This is a must read! (Though wait to read the end till you are alone in your room with a box of tissues!)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Halsey's I Would Leave Me If I Could Poetry Review

  I Would Leave Me If I Could  by Halsey  I've started this review a couple times and scrapped all of them. I've written hundreds of reviews before, and this is the first time I have absolutely no clue how to review a book. It's not just because it's poetry. And it's not because I don't have thoughts on every single poem. I've read the book twice and scrubbed a million notes around her words and highlighted every poem on my second read through. I have so many favorites, and my heart feels like it's going to burst after finishing each poem. Halsey exceeded every expectation I had set to the high bar of her music. I almost feel like this book is too good for my review to remotely do it justice, so I don't even know where to begin.  This book is extremely vulnerable. Halsey has never held back on telling the ugly truth in her lyrics, but the poetry takes it so much farther. She has space to tell the entire story, fewer constraints than what will fit in

Blog Tour Stop: Like Home by Louisa Onomé

  Today, I want to shine the spotlight on Like Home by Louisa Onomé, which came out this week. That means you don't even have to wait to pick up a copy of your very own. Thank you to Turn the Pages Tours and Penguin/Delacorte Press for arranging this. So let's get into what this latest YA is all about! Synopsis: Fans of Netflix’s On My Block, In the Heights, and readers of Elizabeth Acevedo and Ibi Zoboi will love this debut novel about a girl whose life is turned upside down after one local act of vandalism throws her relationships and even her neighborhood into turmoil. Chinelo, or Nelo as her best friend Kate calls her, is all about her neighborhood Ginger East. She loves its chill vibe, ride-or-die sense of community, and her memories of growing up there. Ginger East isn’t what it used to be, though. After a deadly incident at the local arcade, all her closest friends moved away, except for Kate. But as long as they have each other, Nelo’s good. Only, Kate’s parents’ corne

YA You Need To Read: April 2021

It's already April! School has been super super hectic, and I'm starting my old job as a bookseller again, so I haven't had much time for reading lately (ironic, I know), but I did want to talk about some books coming out in April that I can't wait to read (one day) that might inspire you to pick them up. I particularly can't wait for My Epic Spring Break Up! It's been on my list for a while now (I mean, look at that cover), but I also found some new books that hadn't been on my radar while browsing around the internet that I wanted to bring to your attention.  Let me know in the comments what April books you can't wait for!  Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Kahn  April 6th Zara has lived in Corpus Christi, Texas for a while. She's always dealt with the Islamophobia that's rampant in her high school, but when the star football player gets suspended, Zara becomes the target of a racist attack by the rest of the team that puts her and her family'

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi: YA Book Review

  Yolk  by Mary H.K. Choi Overview: Jayne is in fashion school in NYC. Well, she's enrolled. It's debatable how often she actually attends. June has a fancy job in finance, or that's what everyone thinks. But when June gets cancer, the estranged sisters are pulled together because June needs Jayne's identity to get treatment. By pretending to be her sister to get the life-saving procedure, June is forced to come clean and pull Jayne back into her orbit. Though their relationship stays rocky, they're suddenly glued together, forced to admit that their respective glamorous lives are actually filled with roaches and trauma and missteps. Overall: 5+++ This book made me happy cry (that's never happened while reading) and sad cry. Characters: 5 The book is told from Jayne's perspective in an extremely close first person. This book has plot. Things happen in the way that life happens, but it's mostly just characters getting split open and probed for all their w

Swimming Lessons By Lili Reinhart Poetry Review

  Swimming Lessons  by Lili Reinhart  Overall: 5 This is the first poetry book I've ever read in its entirety outside of Shel Silverstein, so I've checked off one of my reading goals for the year with this one. I've now read a graphic novel and a book of poetry. I've been anticipating Swimming Lessons  so long that I can't believe it's actually in my hands. I've been a fan of Lili since Riverdale, and I've continued to be a fan of hers even when the show got a bit too ridiculous for me to keep watching every week. I've been excited for the chance to get to see something completely created a controlled by Lili.  I'm not sure what I expected from Swimming Lessons . I think I had almost no idea what it would be like or the topics it would cover. After the first couple poems, I was completely hooked. In the intro, Lili prefaces the collection by noting that poetry has always given her solace in knowing other people felt the same specific emotions tha

They Both Die At The End

They Both Die At The End  by Adam Silvera (368 pages) Overview: Mateo and Rufus are both going to die at the end, but I'm guessing you got that from the title. The thing is, Mateo and Rufus don't know each other till the day they are going to die. After getting their calls from Death Cast, the new organization that lets everyone know that they are going to die with a call sometime after midnight. While trying to digest the news, they both turn their attention to the Last Friend app in search of finding another "decker" to spend their final day with. As the boys try to think of ways not to waste their final moments, they start to form a bond they never anticipated. Overall: 4 Characters: 4 I have to applaud Silvera for keeping his (mostly) duel prospective narrative voices so separate. Mateo and Rufus not only have different traits but totally different dialects. Mateo is Puerto Rican, quiet, and totally paranoid with a hyperawareness about safe. Both careful an

Fear of Missing Out

Fear of Missing Out  by Kate McGovern  Overview: Astrid has a form of brain cancer called astrocytoma that causes a star shaped tumor to form near her brainstem. Though she was in remission, two years later, the cancer comes back, and Astrid becomes convinced that she won't beat the disease. She starts to pursue options that will allow her to have a life in the future, namely, cryopreservation. After essentially freezing her body, she hopes to wake up when there's a cure for her cancer so she can rejoin the world and see some of the milestones she fears missing. On the road trip to tour the Arizona facility, though, Astrid makes other realizations about her life and eventual death that alters how she sees her original plan. Overall: 4  Characters: 4 Astrid is relatable. She has a touch of dry, witty humor that makes her relatable. She loves her friends and family deeply, but she also has a conviction to follow what feels best for her. I appreciated how she always tried t

Writing Morally Gray Characters: A Guest Post by Laurie Devore, Author of A Better Bad Idea

Laurie Devore is stopping by the blog today to talk about her new book from Imprint, A Better Bad Idea , which is out now! This mystery/thriller/romance fusion is Laurie's third book, and it's a new twist on her usual contemporary YA stories. For this guest post, Laurie talks about crafting morally gray characters that your readers will still feel attached to and cheer on. Here's her best writing tips:  I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of what people will do when they’re pushed to their brink. While my new novel, A BETTER BAD IDEA, may seem like a departure in some ways from my previous novels, I actually think their DNA is quite similar. The stakes are higher, but as ever, this book is about girls making unimaginable choices because of their circumstances, whether self-inflicted or not.   I’m constantly thinking about what it means to write morally gray characters, and I think the main takeaway from me is that I’m just much more interested in what people do and w

Perfect on Paper: YA Book Review

  Perfect on Paper  by Sophie Gonzales (2021 Release!) Preorder The Book on Bookshop! Before I get into the review, I'm just so excited to be writing a book review! I hadn't finished a book since the end of September :(. Hopefully that's over now. Anyway... Overview: Darcy is like Hannah Montana. Well, kinda. She's not a secret pop star, but she does have a hidden identity. She's the girl behind Locker 89, home of the best relationship advice in California. Or, at least, at her high school. People drop a letter and $10 in the locker, and Darcy collects them after school when her mom, a teacher there, stays late. This goes perfectly until Brougham catches her. While it's a minor disaster, he has a fascinating Australian accent and some traces of charm, and he ropes Darcy into giving him personal relationship coaching to win back his ex-girlfriend. But maybe he doesn't want his ex-girlfriend back after all? And maybe Darcy could get over her painful crush on h

Trigger Warnings Show Empathy

This week, YA Twitter was alight with controversy over a number of things this week (per usual, unfortunately). Most of it was run of the mill discussion over labeling YA and creating new genres (which I've talked a little about and I'll link below the posts below). But there was one conversation at the start of the week that baffled me a little. It started with a YA author tweeting something insensitive about trigger/content warnings. She basically said that they shouldn't exist because they spoil stories and that the world is hard and bad or negative things can't and shouldn't be avoided. And the first thing I thought when I saw that original tweet, before reading anyone else's takes or more of the thread was "Wow. People really don't get what a trigger warning is and who they're for." Because trigger warning are put on media now for a small number of people who have a genuine need. It's a relatively new thing in books (and really mos