Violet Markey contemplates throwing herself off the bell tower of her school. Theodore Finch, himself about to do the same, talks her down and they continue with their lives.
This chance encounter develops into a dynamic friendship with Finch, based on his insistence that they work together on a school project to profile some of Indiana’s lesser-known sights. So far, so John Green. But the main hook of this story is the character of Finch. Through swapping narratives, Finch and Violet, we see that Finch is a troubled soul, and one that is always looking for more, for the next thrill, or a meaning to life. He is well-read and can seemingly change his personality or manner depending on the people or his mood. Mostly he just doesn’t care, playing up to the ‘freak’ tag at school, which seems to matter more to other people than Finch himself.
Violet herself has become a little lost since the tragic death of a family member, and is on the countdown to leaving school and the state and going to college as far away as possible. Finch provides some inspiration and motivation to the girl that thought of throwing herself off the bell tower.
For a book with this title, All the Bright Places is incredibly dark at times, Finch’s facts about suicide a constant feature of his narrative. The author’s main objective in writing this book, apart from writing a compelling story, was to talk about the stigma of suicide, which is close to her life, and how it affects not only the people who die or have suicidal thoughts, but also the families. Both Violet and Finch’s families are to the fore here, explaining a lot of their contrasting outlooks on life.
All the Bright Places is a great read, and one that stays with you for a long time after.