All the Bright Places

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Theodore “Freak” Finch and Violet Markey stand on a ledge above their high school. Both are thinking about jumping. Both can’t quite do the deed. Strangers to one another, they ultimately talk each other back onto safe ground. They choose life. This meeting sparks the beginning of a lovely roller coaster ride. Violet comes from the land of the popular; a well-liked blond with her own online magazine and big dreams of going to New York University. Finch comes from the land of the loser; a tall black-haired outcast with bipolar tendencies and a bad homelife.

They would ordinarily never cross paths, but their unconventional meeting leaves them vulnerable. Violet reels from the sudden death of her older sister Eleanor. Finch is looking for control in his life. Both of them need help.

The two become partners on a geography project for school and soon find themselves wandering all over their home state of Indiana to find all of the most unusual places they can think of. They ride a homemade roller coaster in someone’s backyard, climb towers, swim in bottomless blue lakes, borrow books from a trailer park of retired bookmobiles. They become friends, and then they become something more.

As happens in life, what goes up must come down. Euphoric mania tumbles down into weighty depression. Sadness creeps in through the cracks. Staying awake and present in this world becomes hard. The good times don’t last. Will Finch and Violet be able to save one another?

All the Bright Places tackles very difficult subject matters with grace and aplomb. Both the main characters, who take turns telling their story, are likable and relatable even at their worst moments. Their doomed love story feels immediate and raw in the way that teenage love so often does, and readers will root for them to beat the odds that are stacked against them. Illness isn’t always visible or physical, and this book will hopefully inspire teens to look out for one another and find help when needed. Above all, this is an important story, beautifully told. 400 pages   978-0385755887   Ages 14 and up

Highly recommended by Molly Crumbley, Librarian, Maryland, USA.

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