On My Bookshelf: All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

June 12, 2017

In All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, Finch and Violet's paths intersect in a most unusual way: on the ledge of the school's bell tower as each contemplates jumping. Neither does and their ensuing relationship brings the light back into Violet's life, but will it be enough to save Finch from his own darkness? Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: Theodore Finch is fascinated by death. Every day he thinks of ways he might kill himself, but every day he also searches for—and manages to find—something to keep him here, and alive, and awake.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her small 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—six stories above the ground— it’s unclear who saves whom. Soon it’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself. 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...
In All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, Finch and Violet's paths intersect in a most unusual way: on the ledge of the school's bell tower as each contemplates jumping. Neither does and their ensuing relationship brings the light back into Violet's life, but will it be enough to save Finch from his own darkness? Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

Why I liked it: All The Bright Places is the first book in a while that I couldn't put down, but also left me in tears. The main character, Finch, has a contagious passion for life, a terrific sense of adventure, and a charming romantic spirit. He's the kind of boy that every teenage girl dreams of meeting. Violet is at first too enveloped in the grief over his sister's death to succumb to Finch's charisma, but before long, she finds herself enjoying life again thanks to Finch.

As a teacher, I was infuriated by the lack of response to Finch's mental health issues by both his parents and his counselor. I won't give away the ending, but I am warning you to have your tissues on hand. 


Classroom application: The novel deals with themes of loss, abuse, and metal illness. It could be used as a modern comparison to Romeo and Juliet or paired with novels like Eleanor & Park, The Fault in Our Stars, and If I Stay to examine the dynamics of teenage relationships. It could also be paired with pair with other novels focused on mental health issues like Challenger Deep, Mosquitoland, and Every Last Word.

In the novel, one of Finch and Violet's teachers assigns them the project of visiting sites of interest in their state. Similarly, you could assign a project requiring students to visit a certain number of historical or interesting sites in your town, city, or state. Students could take photographs, write descriptions of the locations and create an interactive map.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of All The Bright Places for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

For more reading suggestions for students and teachers:


Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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