Oh High School…. A time of hormones, boys, plaid skirts, knee-high socks, football and nuns. I went to a private Catholic High School, so these things were normal in my world. For some, high school was a time that held great memories of friends, laughter, and homework, but for others it could have been a time of great person struggle and turmoil. All of us have and will experience the horror that is high school; there is no other time in your life-like it and it is the period that often defines who we are meant to become. It was in high school that I discovered my love for reading, and that it only took one moment to spark a love that will last the rest of my life (will write about it in a future post). My time in high school is a delicate blend of happy and sad memories that have helped to shape the woman I am today. It was those moments and those friendships that I had help me to discover who I was as a person, and I am still friends with a few people from my high school days. The book, All the Bright Places by Jennifer Neven demonstrates the power of the relationships and events during a time where life was so fragile, and ultimately define who we are meant to become.
All the Bright Places tells the story of Violet and Theodore, who happen to meet on the edge of the sixth-story bell tower on the top of their high school. Both of them up there for various reasons, Theodore manages to convince Violet to step away from the ledge, and a friendship is born, even though Violet is very much against it. Both from various circles in school, Violet, being Ms. Popular, is reluctant to let Theodore, the school freak, into her life. Determined to win her over, Theodore manages to weasel his way into being her partner in a school project where they are to discover various parts of the great state of Illinois. What neither of them realize is while they are out exploring, they discover much about one another. Violet overcome with grief of a personal loss, and Theodore in the process of fighting his own demons, must learn to enjoy the brighter side of things even when everything seems so dark. Both of them could be the savior each of them needs in a world where the future, for them, seems so bleak.
All the Bright Places was the first Young Adult book that made me stop and think… about everything. I thought about life, death, my struggles, my past, my present, my future and how I felt about each and every one of them. These were not just passing thoughts, but things that I reflected upon in my life and how they can be different. After every chapter, I stopped and thought over the things that were said between the two main characters and the things they were feeling. After suffering a loss of my own in high school, I was able to relate to what Violet was feeling and thinking. Jennifer was able to find words to the emotions I had back then that I could not voice. Her words were profound, compelling and heart-felt. Her writing is impeccable, soft, fluid, touching and real: unlike any YA book I have ever come across. Her characters development is dark, deep, truthful, and honest. They touch on tough topics, and Jennifer doesn’t shy away from revealing the truth, no matter the effect it has on her beloved characters. I wasn’t sure if it was possible for a YA book to have such depth, and effect on me, but it did. This novel is something that should be read all people who struggle, who have struggled or know someone has gone through hard times. Her story moved me, and allowed me to look back and reflect on the difficult moments I had as a teenager. Jennifer has taken a step by shedding light on things that people are unwilling to write about, and I commend her for writing such a brilliant, moving piece of work. Sometimes I will buy book on my kindle and love them so much that I will need a physical copy for my library, and All the Bright Places fit that category. I plan to have a copy showing in my library and proudly talk of such a wonderful book.
I also have to mention that Jennifer Niven is by far the cutest, sweetest human I have ever met! I met her at the Pasadena loves YA event a few weeks ago and she was such a treat to listen to her talk about her book. Her passion for her work is evident and it was lovely to see such an amazing woman behind such an amazing piece of fiction. She was absolutely lovely and it was wonderful meeting her! I am looking forward to her next book, I hope she is in the process of writing something else. I forgot to ask and I wish I did.
If deep, thought-provoking books are your thing then this book is for you! If you loved A Fault in Our Starts, then this is right up your alley. Of course, I have to admit… I did not cry in All the Bright Places. I did ball my eyes out in TFIOS, so does that mean I only have half a soul? For some reason, I was deeply touched by All the Bright Places but not one tear came. I was more shocked on the ending and the turn of events for the characters, so maybe the tears will hit me later. If I do end up crying about it later, I will be sure to put something on twitter where you all can point and laugh at me, lol. But I did love this book, and I think it is a good that people, especially young people, should take the time to read it. It will impact the way you see the world and allow you to open your eyes to things unseen before.
What books are the ones that make you cry? Do you have a few? How you feel about books taking place in High School? Do they fill you with happy memories or sad ones? Let me know in the comments below!
Buy on Amazon: All the Bright Places
2 thoughts on “2015 Reading Challenge: A book set in high school- All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven”
Rashmi – Thanks so much for bringing this article our atn!Itiotenndeed, ‘namma chennai’ while restrained in behaviour, is incredibly liberated in thought – Its something I have discovered given my specific relationship with this particular city.The Hindu – as a newspaper varying a bit too frequently between valiant and tepid – does do a fine job and the feather on this cap, was the picture as you rightly pointed out – Those 5 dudes are your standard government honchos but for them to be representative of change is quite a tickling fancy and something that makes me very hopeful