All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is a poignant and heartfelt story that made me cry every time I read it. Give this book to any of your teens who are looking for realistic fiction about real-life problems, for books that give an honest portrayal of death and grief, and for books about friendship and love.
Finch and Violet have known about each other for a while, but they don’t really KNOW each other. They both go to the same school, but that’s about all they have in common. Violet is a beautiful, popular girl. Everyone knows her and everyone likes her. Finch, on the other hand, isn’t popular at all. He only has a few friends, and everyone else just thinks that he’s weird and he’s a loner.
In fact, one of the weird things that Finch does is go to the bell tower at school, climb to the top, and hang out on the ledge. He never jumps, he just THINKS about jumping. He hangs out by himself on the ledge of the bell tower, and he thinks about ending his own life. He thinks about what it would be like to die, and to escape this life that makes him so unhappy.
And that’s why when Violet climbs the steps of the bell tower and steps out on the ledge, Finch happens to be just a few feet away. Because he was already there. Now, Finch has been up on the ledge several times before, and no one’s ever tried to stop him. Maybe it’s because he’s weird, or unpopular, or forgettable. But Violet is none of those things. When she goes out on the ledge, people notice right away. When Violet’s friends come over to see what’s wrong, Finch decides to save her, or at least to save her reputation. He tells people that the reason Violet came up to the ledge of the bell tower was to try to save him. Even though they both know that’s not true.
Up until now, Finch and Violet didn’t know each other, they had nothing in common, and they definitely weren’t friends. But ever since they met on that ledge and actually spoke to each other, things started to change between them. As the days turn into weeks and months and they get to know each other better, they’ll realize that they have more in common than they ever imagined.