All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven Review: Crying All the Tears

January 7, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 4 stars, Books, Reviews

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven Review: Crying All the TearsAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Published by Penguin Australia on January 7, 2015
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it's unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the 'natural wonders' of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It's only with Violet that Finch can be himself - a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who's not such a freak after all. And it's only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink.

Now that I’ve stopped bawling after finishing All the Bright Places, let me tell you about it.

Depression. Mental Illness. Suicide. All of these issues are very real and prevalent, but what it always comes with, is a heavy stigma. Many people who aren’t affected by it, believe that it’s a choice, that the victims aren’t really suffering, that it’s a form of weakness, and that they always had the decision.

The stark reality is, many people suffering from depression and mental illness will never seek help or support because of the stigma attached to it. People need to be informed about the realities of these conditions, and All the Bright Places paints a very real picture of someone suffering from mental illness.

“What if life could be this way? Only the happy parts, none of the terrible, not even the mildly unpleasant. What if we could just cut out the bad and keep the good? This is what I want to do with Violet – give her only the good, keep away the bad, so that good is all we ever have around us.”

From the start of Theo and Violet’s story, we see they are on the verge of suicide for very different reasons. Violet is hurting from her sister’s recent death, and Theo feels like he just doesn’t belong. Although they save each other from jumping, it was Violet who was seen and applauded as a hero while Theo the Freak is further victimised. The reactions of Theo’s peers, teachers and even his family were absolutely heart breaking, as no one wants to address the issue. Their reactions are sadly realistic – instead of offering their support, they react with denial, ignorance, bullying and gossip.

“What were you doing up on that ledge?” – Finch

“The same thing you were. I wanted to see what it was like. I wanted to imagine jumping off. I wanted to leave all the shit behind. But when I did start to imagine it, I didn’t like what it looked like. And then I saw you.” – Violet.

Violet serves as Theo’s bright place, pulling him out of his dark times and giving him happiness to cling onto. I loved seeing the beautiful parts of Theo, his sweet side, his nerdy side, and how intelligent and thoughtful he really was especially when it came to caring for Violet. He isn’t a bad person, just misunderstood and no one really gave him a chance to prove otherwise. Their romance evolved beautifully as they got to know each other, and I was glad to see sex being a part of it, and done so realistically as well.

What All the Bright Places doesn’t do, is gloss over the real issues. We still see Theo suffering through the solitude he seeks, his obsession with death, his moments of being feeling hurt and the displacement of his feelings. We know that all these are still a part of him, not temporary departures from his character. Theo himself makes us understand, through his acceptance of his mood swings and refusing to buy into the labels people love to place on him. Slowly but surely, he lets Violet in to every part of his character, and she still loves every part of him.

“Listen, I’m the freak. I’m the weirdo. I’m the trouble-maker. I start fights. I let people down. Don’t make Finch mad, whatever you do. Oh, there he goes again, in one of his moods. Moody Finch. Angry Finch. Unpredictable Finch. Crazy Finch. But I’m not a compilation of symptoms. Not a casualty of shitty parents and an even shittier chemical makeup. Not a problem. Not a diagnosis. Not an illness. Not something to be rescued. I’m a person.”


All the Bright Places is one of the most relatable and realistic portrayals of mental illness, depression and suicide I’ve read. It’s incredibly hard hitting and emotional, and I couldn’t stop crying upon finishing the book. To change social stigma, you need acceptance and understanding of the actual issues, and I believe Jennifer Niven’s book is a step towards a more positive change. This is a book that needs to be read, if not for it’s realistic exploration into teenage depression and suicide, then for it’s beautiful story.

My ARC came with bright places sticky notes!


Rating: 4.5 out of 5


I received a review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes are from an ARC and may have changed at the time of publishing. 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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77 responses to “All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven Review: Crying All the Tears

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  3. Romi

    What a lovely review! You really made me want to hurry up and get a copy of this, Jeann! I’ve heard so much about it in this past two weeks and am both incredibly keen to read it and see what I think, but a little concerned that it might be really like TFiOS. I’m still excited, though. It seems incredible and so beautiful, and those quotes you included only make me want to read it more!

    My recent post A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.

  4. Wait. People actually believe that depression is a choice? What kind of people believe that? Clinical depression is definitely not a choice and neither is situational depression. Depression is very hard to get out of once you've become accustomed to it. Sometimes trying to get out of it just seems like it's not worth it. Sorry for my little ramble hehe. 😛 I definitely love that All the Bright Places portrayed teenage depression with raw honesty. I'm so glad that you adored this one as well!
    My recent post Show and Tell: Why I Need New Bookshelves

  5. This is a book I really want to read! I do like books with meaningful and heavy messages that will stay with you after the book and paint a real picture of what a mental illness is like. And a book that doesn't gloss over the details and has intriguing characters? Yes please!
    My recent post Gift Guide Tag!

  6. danielyoo14

    I've been hearing good things about this all over the bookish world.
    I'll get to it in a few days, and I can't wait to read it.
    Great review!

  7. Jeann, I couldn't agree with you more. This book was phenomenal. It WAS realistic wasn't. Unlike most authors, it didn't romanticize mental illness as being quirky or a character flaw. I think it's the first time that I've been completely and utterly immersed in a book and it's characters. I cried and cried. Those big heaving sobs. This isn't just a book, it's an entire experience.

    Lovely review Jeann, makes me want to reread it already <3
    My recent post The Vanishing by Kate Kae Myers

    • I really loved how it addressed the issues head on and it really made us invested and broke our hearts. I had the same too Kelly! (I believe the term you are searching for, is ugly crying).

  8. Jennifer @Boricuan Bookworms

    Beautiful review! I agree wholeheartedly with everything you wrote, specially on how this book is a step towards a change and understanding of the issues portrayed realistically here. I also agree on how a lot of people judge, bully, ignore, and treat in other negative ways people who have certain illnesses or problems causes by a myriad of reasons instead of looking for a way to help them. Lots of suicides and accidents could be stopped from even happening if only we listened to those in need, if not for medication or other stuff, then maybe even an ear or a word of advice usually helps. Even the kind of advice Finch gave Violet at the start. Again, great review, loved it, and I am so glad you liked the book <3

    • Thanks Jennifer for your thoughtful comment! It was such an emotional and honest book, I think everyone should read it. It's just sad that the behaviour towards those with mental illness and other conditions was realistic, and not a nice thing to confront.

  9. This one seems to be on everyone's reading list right now. I have seen it all over the place. But it makes me really happy is that everyone seem to love it. I know I will though, as I like books that deal with some serious issues and this one seems to cover more than one! I'm so happy you loved it. Great review, Jeann 🙂
    My recent post Top 10 Books Glass Is Looking Forward the Most in 2015

  10. LilysBookBlog

    Awe Jeann! I teared up reading your review! I recently ordered this online since everyone's said such sweet things about it and it seems like a truly great read. I need to get my hands on it. It seems poignant, honest, heartfelt and incredibly sad. Great review!

    • Wow, all my feels just poured out Lily after reading the book! I really look forward to you reading it as well. Thanks lovely, sorry for making you teary lol

  11. Jeann. My friend. My awesome little blogging buddy. STOP READING ALL THE AWESOME BOOKS BEFORE I DO. It makes me jealous and makes me want to deny you cake for the rest of your life 😉

    Theo sounds so sweet and fragile and like I'd just want to give him a thousand hugs. The romance just sounds tender and like one that's actually based on something real and tangible, rather than people making goo-goo eyes at each other and admiring abs or whatever. Also: YAY FOR SEX. Because sometimes that's glossed over in YA and everything is very PG and I really don't think it's realistic.

    I'm glad this takes the time to fully develop issues like mental illness and takes care while doing so. It sounds painfully good 😀

    • Lol you know you love it Allie 😉 The sex does occur but it isn't spoken about in any great detail, which was great because it wasn't awkward you know? The romance was done perfectly. I hope you get to read it soon, then I'LL be jealous that you get to read it for the first time 😀

  12. Eugenia

    Beautiful review Jeann!
    Welcome to the club of fans for this book – and boy was it an emotional read. The story itself definitely felt realistic and tackled those tough mental health issues in an honest way.
    The sticky notes were a cool touch in the ARC's weren't they? I loved one of mine – it had that Harry Potter quote 'Yer a wizard Harry!' 🙂
    My recent post ARC Review: Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven

    • Thank you Genie! Gosh it was emotional and incredibly amazing. I loved seeing what everyone got for their sticky notes! OMGGG BEST QUOTE EVER.

  13. Beautiful review, Jeann! I agree that this book is a positive step toward changing the negative stigmas surrounding mental illness and suicide. The author wrote it in such a way that made it realistic yet not overdone. It was simply wonderful, if painful and sad and heartbreaking. I adored both of the main characters, and all I wanted was for them to be happy. And even if it hurt so badly, I loved that ending and this story. I think it's so badly needed right now. <3
    My recent post The Violet and the Finch: All the Bright Places Review

    • Thank you, it was a really wonderful and realistic portrayal and I hope this book really gets out there you know? The main characters were amazing too. Gosh it's just heart breaking. Will check out your review later!

  14. Bec

    You liked it as much as I did! Yay!

    I'm never going to be over this book. Not ever. It just… it really hit me. I knew it would have an emotional effect but I wasn't expecting to love the characters and everything so much.

    I really hope this book becomes as big as TFIOS, if not bigger. It contains really important, realistic messages a lot of teenagers out there, and society in general, need to here in this day and age.
    My recent post Waiting on Wednesday [48]

    • SO AMAZING BEC. I feel emotional just thinking about the experience we just went through. At least this one seems to be more relatable than TFIOS you know? Definitely an important and essential message.

  15. I completely agree with everything you've said here Jeann. This is such a heart-breaking and well-written book. Definitely one of the most honest and raw portrayals of teen suicide / mental illness that I've ever read. Violet and Finch wove their way into my heart, flaws and all, and I am so glad they did the same to you. <3
    My recent post I Dreamed a Dream…

    • It was definitely a very honest and hard hitting book, gosh I just tear up just thinking about it! Violet and Finch, just wow.

  16. Lola @ Hit or Miss Books

    I was interested in reading this one but honestly thought it was going to be about something else. Not mental illness 😛 Not that I mind it, but they are REALLY hit or miss for me. I'll still give it a try though and so many people seem to have loved this one so yay! Wonderful review, Jeann!!
    My recent post Creatures of the Night Book Tag

  17. Francoise

    This sounds like a very real book and I want to read it so bad! It's not often that authors go over subject like these because they are so controversial and it depends on the way you look at it. I really feel like an emotional read like this because I haven't read a really meaningful novel in a while. Your review has made me want to read it so bad!
    My recent post Faking It by Gabrielle Tozer {Giveaway AUS only}

    • I hope you get the chance to read it soon Francoise, it was a really emotional and realistic, hard-hitting sort of read. So glad you liked the sound of it!

  18. Ashley G.

    This sounds like a good read! Very realistic. I've heard about this book from other people too.

  19. loonytuney

    I just read it the other day and I still haven't picked up another book because they'll never be as good as this!! So so happy to see all these positive reviews – it might have some effect with reducing the stigma towards mental illness.
    My recent post The Debut Novels I’m Anticipating in 2015

    • I know exactly what you mean! I actually read I Was here straight after it, it's not easy to pick up books about suicide but seeing as I was on a role already.

    • Awesome Marianne, you have to read it soon before the hype train arrives lol! I'm glad you're already preparing for it as well. Thank you Marianne!

  20. Symphony of Words

    Oh wow, looks like such an emotional ride…have heard nothing but praise for this book ever since I first saw it on the blogosphere. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much and the characters were so 3-D. Will be picking this up soon enough.

    Also, if you're interested, I'm hosting my first ever giveaway (like, EVER) because of the new year and everything, so here's the link if you want to join in on the fun!

    • It definitely was emotional but it was a really wonderful read at that. Congrats on your first giveaway, I'll check it out when I get the chance!

    • Definitely not an easy feat for books to affect us this much. Every time I think about it I want to cry lol! Would be interested in seeing what you think Kayla.

    • I can totally relate, that's exactly how I felt about picking up TFIOS, but I was so glad I did. It's one of those really meaningful reads you know? Thanks Lisa!

    • It is so amazing Jess and you have to be ready for a tear jerker. We need things that are realistic and this was perfect. No problems!

  21. I’ve wanted to read this book ever since I saw in it Goodreads.I was totally captivated by the cover and the blurb,and after reading your review now,I am dying to read this book now.
    I love myself a tearjerker and I think this will be perfect for me to get over my reading slump.
    My recent post What makes you cry over a book?

    • It was definitely a beautiful book that will make you cry! Looks like your recent post is perfectly timed too, I'll check it out later 🙂

  22. I just the e-mail from NetGalley that I was approved for this eARC, so your wonderful review couldn't come at a better time! I will put this one in the queue to be read as soon as I'm done with the two ARCs I'm alternating right now!
    My recent post Waiting On Wednesday #76!!

  23. I've heard so many fabulous things about this book, but I think your reviews is one of the ones that I read that best explains why it's so good. There is a lot of stigma around mental illness and suicide, so it's good this book deals with it. Violet sounds like a really likeable character, especially because she goes against the stigma. And everybody says this book is sad.

    Ha, I love that you got sticky notes with your ARC.
    My recent post Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Novels For 2015