Too often, we talk down to teenagers like they don’t understand real love and real heartbreak—when, in reality, our first experiences with pain are often the most jarring, and with love, the most electric. Jennifer Niven’s All The Bright Places captures these truths beautifully. We’re still recovering from our feels.
When the two main characters, Violet and Finch, meet, it is under the saddest and most peculiar of circumstances. Both are going through difficult times, and yet their relationship blossoms; but while Violet begins to learn how to live, Finch loses sight of why he wants to. We won’t spoil it, but it’ll have you crying harder than The Fault in Our Stars (bold statement, we know) and will definitely change your outlook on life. We can’t recommend it enough, and here are just a few reasons why.
1. It beautifully explores how we cope with grief.
In the beginning of the novel, Violet has just lost her sister. While every person’s experience with grief is unique, Violet processes hers in a way that feels truthful, and shows how we can eventually recover from a loss that feels insurmountable.
2. It confirms that it’s totally OK to be weird.
Like characters Eleanor and Park in Rainbow Rowell’s (great) book of the same name, Violet and Finch are “weird” in their own ways, but both show that being a little different can actually be a wonderful thing. Practicing self-love is always a tricky process, but learning to accept yourself and your eccentricities is an amazing first step in the journey.
3. It reminds us that young love is the best thing ever.
Everything is so significant when you’re young and in love for the first time, and all that wonderfulness brewing under the surface is completely there between Violet and Finch. Their chemistry is excellent and reminds us of the greatness of pure, unbridled affection. If only we could always experience love in the same way!
4. It treats depression and mental illness with honesty, compassion, and hope.
Mental illness is so often glossed over, and the people who deal with it in its many forms are overlooked in ways big and small. All The Bright Places conveys what it feels like to navigate something uncontrollable to you, particularly when you feel like you have no one to turn to for help. Anyone you meet might be fighting a silent battle, and this book reminds us to always treat others with kindness and compassion. It offers an honest portrayal of the complexities of mental illness rather than a pretty and convenient one, which is incredibly important.
5. It proves that life is worth living, and that you can still find happiness, even when things are going terribly.
One of the main themes that the book tackles is the struggle to believe that life is worth living, and how we muster the strength to move forward when so much continues to pull us back into the darkness. All The Bright Places handles this beautifully, and in ways both subtle and obvious reignites our desire to savor life for all its beautiful complexities, even when it feels purposeless and empty.
Gigglers, we want you to share your “bright places” with us. Where makes you happiest and helps you believe in all the greatness life has to offer? Let us know @HelloGiggles on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #AllTheBrightPlaces.