Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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I went into All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven with my guard up. No matter how good or bad the book was, I knew a story about depression was likely to trigger my own. No surprise, it did. All the Bright Places is a beautifully written book that is, at times, very difficult to read.

I’d like to warn the reader up front that this review will have some pretty big spoilers.

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES at GoodreadsAll the Bright Places is about two teens with depression. Violet’s sister died in a car accident the previous year and Violet blames herself for it. Finch has a long history of acting out and having sudden extreme mood swings. It is heavily implied that he is also bi-polar. At the start of the book both teens have suicidal thoughts, but Finch manages to talk Violet off of a ledge and Violet becomes Finch’s new reason for living. From there the story becomes about their budding romance as well as their personal growth. They learn about themselves and each other while exploring the hidden wonders of Indiana.

Violet and Finch are both very well-written and developed characters. It’s interesting to see them evolve and to understand more of their personal histories. It’s poignant, slice-of-life stuff and the John Green comparisons are sure to pop up. As a representation of how it feels to be depressed, All the Bright Places does a great job. I connected with the way Finch needed to find an active reason to stay alive, how he regularly pushed himself to physical exertion to feel life pumping through him, but still couldn’t stop himself from thinking about all the ways people have killed themselves. It’s a great illustration of the contradictions that can fill a person with depression.

However, now we come to the book’s greatest flaw: this is not a book for people with depression. I would absolutely not recommend it for anyone with depression who was looking for representation. The problem, and this is the big spoiler I mentioned, is that one of the protagonists kills himself. I was worried about this for the entire book. I kept flipping ahead and peaking at the last page, knowing what I saw and hoping I was wrong.

Of the two, Finch is the character with the more deep-rooted mental issues. It’s made clear through the book that he’s had suicidal thoughts for years, which hasn’t been made easier by years of bullying in school, an absent mother, and an abusive father. Being with Violet makes things better for a time, but as the book progresses I could see his dark thoughts coming back. In the end, he runs away from home and isn’t heard from for weeks. Finally Violet finds him, drowned in a lake where they’d had a date.

Suicide is a delicate topic to put in any story. Sometimes it’s used for sensationalism and sometimes it’s meant to illustrate poignant tragedy. In a book about depression though, it’s simply an essential element to discuss. Sadly, depression and suicide go together all too often in the real world. Unfortunately, Finch’s suicide is one that is handled poorly, ruining much of the book.

Once Finch dies, I feel that All the Bright Places really shows its true colors. I have seen this novel advertised as a story about teenage depression, but I don’t think that’s quite right. It’s a book for people with friends who commit suicide. The author admits at the end that it was an experience she went through herself and the last chunk of the story is all about Violet coping with losing Finch.

In his absence Finch goes from being an interesting, well-rounded character to a manic pixie dream-boy. Prior to killing himself he left all sort of special messages for Violet to find, final love letters to the wonder of their romance. During this section Violet doesn’t question what was going through Finch’s mind or the tragedy of suicide. Instead it’s all about finding the next whimsical message and ultimately giving Violet the strength to move on with her life.

It all left me incredibly sad and angry. Depression is a terrible illness that will regularly make a person believe the worst things about themself. It’s painful and it’s deadly and anyone with it knows that it’s daily struggle to find reasons to stay alive. Yes, there are wonderful people like Finch who lose that battle, but that isn’t the message that teens need to read about. What anyone with depression desperately needs is hope. We need to believe that we can get better, that we can get to a place somehow where we can function without that little voice saying “This would all be easier if you just died.” All the Bright Places does not leave the depressed reader with that hope. Instead it says, “If you die the right way, you can end up being an inspiration to others.”

The book also does an awful job of portraying the means to recovery for depression or any mental illness. In the fashion of any 90’s coming-of-age story, Violet and Finch both grow and evolve entirely through talking to each other, whimsical adventures, and abstract philosophy. While those things might help some people, things like therapy and medication are often essential. In All the Bright Places both standard treatment methods are shown in a very negative light. Therapists are well-meaning adults who don’t really understand at best, or at worst will put in minimal effort to try and get the depressed kid back in line. At one point Violet finds Finch living in his bedroom closet and suggests therapy to him, only to have him run away. That winds up being the last time she sees him. She partially blames herself for his death because she pushed him to seek help.

The only mention of medication comes when Finch drops in on a suicidal teens support group and sees several kids with “the dull, vacant look of people on drugs”. No one explains the benefits of antidepressants. Instead any hint of medical treatment is treated with disgust and outdated ideas. Finch says that medication will take away who you are or that or a medical label like “bipolar” will only reduce you to a crazy case-study. This notion is never refuted.

It’s painful because the writing and the characters are wonderfully well-crafted, but if you’re looking for a book about depression I’d pass on this one. The demonization of proper treatment, the presence of possibly preventable suicide, and the sudden transformation of Finch into a manic pixie dream-boy all weigh the story down too much. Save yourself the heartache and read something with a bit more hope.



About Author

Alex Townsend

Alex Townsend is a writer, a day-dreamer, and a really cool person. She also has depression. It's okay. She's still cool and you're still cool. You'll make it. She believes in you.

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48 Comments

  1. Its so good to find someone else who agrees…I was recently diagnosed and I connected so hard with Finch, especially the times when he wondered “which part does Violet love”. I LOVED this book, but as soon as Finch went missing, I knew.

    I understood the characters reactions to the traditional methods, but you are entirely correct that she didn’t handle it right, she should have played a more positive spin on therapy and meds.

    What I hated most really was the fact that it took him doing that for anyone in his life to care. Even Violet – she loved Finch, but she didn’t necessarily CARE about him, not until it mattered. That to me was the most triggering aspect – everyone showing up to his funeral, saying that they loved and missed him. While it’s realistic I hated that, because I barely made it through high school without thinking about that. ]

    I cried for about a day at the ending 🙁 If you haven’t already, and I bet you have, and you want an uplifting book on mental illness – Silver Linings Playbook. The book > film (as it so often is) and it is beautiful and heartbreaking and inspiring.

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  3. I absolutely agree with all of this. Finch’s character is done such a disservice by the narrative in this book. I am fortunate enough not to suffer from depression, but my partner does, and the end of this book didn’t help me (as a “friend” of someone with depression) one bit. Instead it made me feel sick, disgusted, and actually did make me cry, but not for the reasons that it wanted to. I honestly wish I’d never read it and I think it’s actually dangerous to people, especially teens, suffering with mental health issues, because it heavily implies that there is no way for Finch to be helped. I’m not saying help is always successful, or that all suicides are preventable, but this book implies that it never is.

    • I think that you are only seeing Finch’s side there is a survivor in this book and that is Violet. I believe that even when Violet was having suicidal thought and even when Finch diesd she stayed strong. As a person who isnt depressed I loved this book it made me understand what by best friend and my brother are going through and as it di dmake me feel sad I believe that I am closer to understanding my loved ones so they dont go through the same things. I think that this book portayed that yes for some people you cant survive but for others you can. I believe that survivors of suicide or people who want to understand what depressed people are going through should read these books ( also I can not know what you are going through so these are just my opinions do not want to offend you in any way)

  4. Thank you. I have been boycotting this book on principle. I may quote your line: “Yes, there are wonderful people like Finch who lose that battle, but that isn’t the message that teens need to read about.” I am glad that someone else didn’t adore this book. In my eyes, it is not a helpful theme, or at least not done in a helpful way.

  5. Ugh. I finished this book tonight, but I didn’t want to finish it. I was so desperate to find someone else that shared my point of view because all of the reviews raved about it. I’m upset for so many reasons. And your review sums it up in the words I can’t yet express. The main thing that worries me is that so many teens will be reading this (or watching the movie that’s rumored to happen) and it just sends a heart breaking message.

  6. Rosemary A. Blodgett (@RosemaryAubry) on

    Really appreciated your point of view on this book. I felt gutted by it and thought it was powerful. You have made me recognize its weaknesses. I didn’t think as heavily on the therapy, the bipolar, & getting help even though I noticed it. Definitely mixed messages, but so hard to get this stuff “right” because where is the right? I’m a 49 year woman so my take and ability to filter the information (and maybe gloss over shortcomings) did make me wonder about recommending to teenagers.

  7. Oh, please. I loved this book. Not all books have happy endings. I don’t think this book implied that suicides are never preventable – it was just telling a story, one story. Teens commit suicide- it happens and this book showed that and how the other characters have to go on after Finch’s death. I don’t think a book needs to completely didactic for me to recommend it to a teen, but, that being said, there were plenty of lessons to be learned here. Teens deserve to read about everything -sadness, included.

    • I agree, I think it’s dangerous to prevent teenagers like me (though I don’t suffer from depression, I know many people who do) to learn that there isn’t always a happy ending to a story, but it’s about how you move on and how you deal with that loss and grief. Also, I don’t know I many of you know this, but if you read the authors note at the end of the book, she says that this was based off of her and her high school love who did in fact commit suicide, so I do think that it would be worth while to go back and read that because it gives a new meaning to the story that you may not have thought of before.

    • I agree one-hundred percent. Jennifer Niven wrote this story for her own reasons. And while constructive criticism is always perfectly okay, this review seems to go a little too far. In my opinion, All the Bright Places is a wonderful read for anyone, including people suffering from depression. You cannot and should not dispute the book simply because you didn’t enjoy the ending. The harsh reality of life is that not everyone has a happy ending. The book was never advertised specifically for people with depression, so its relativity should not be judged on that. Yes, depression can lead to suicide. If you didn’t like the story, thats perfectly fine, but the author should not be critiqued based on your liking (or lack of) of the plot. The portrayal of depression in this book, in my option is incredibly accurate, as I speak from experience. Not every story gets a happily-ever-after, and Jennifer Niven did a terrific job in capturing the reality of that.

    • I heavily agree with this reply. Many people bash this book simply because it doesn’t have a happy ending, but i think it was very important to mention the fact that Finch committed suicide. Call me crazy, but it took many weeks of Finch being missing before he killed himself. I think that this shows how suicide is never an easy way out and it’s not only painful for family members and friends, but the victim as well. I adore this book. The perspective in which Finch sees himself, others, and the world is completely and utterly admirable. As someone who has been through similar situations, with therapy, medications, intensive outpatient and inpatient care, i relate to this book more than i’d like to admit. Overall, this book has completely changed the way i look at life and what it has to offer.

  8. When I was close to finishing All the Bright Places, I was sensing what was about to happen and it made me so anxious that I couldn’t sleep. I really appreciate your thoughts here. I found the book to be so troubling.

    I try not to make judgments stating what teens should and shouldn’t read, and of course they should read about sad things. But I deeply agree with what I think you were saying here – this is not a realistic or healthy portrayal of the effects of depression and suicide.

  9. I haven’t actually read this book yet, but I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews which was why I went looking for a review with spoilers to give me the whole story. And I found your review very helpful in my decision whether to read it (which I will be).
    I have read a number of “suicide books” (I don’t know what we are meant to call them?) recently, and I have to say that the majority of them have ended with the main character/both characters who have been contemplating suicide throughout the book actually surviving, whether that be through someone else saving their life or them deciding that life is worth living. Sure, you could say that these books are the ones that teens should be reading because then they see the story of hope and that will teach them that there is always something to live for.
    Although I haven’t read All The Bright Places, and only have your review and a few other to go on, I feel like even though this story does not end happily that maybe these are also the types of books that we need to be reading, and have younger people reading in order to teach them of the seriousness of depression and suicide. They can see the story unfold, they can see the moments when the person could have been saved if someone would have intervened, they can see the old fashioned opinions on medication and think “well that’s stupid”, and they can experience (through a character they have come to love) just how horrific it is to loose someone close to you to suicide. Then maybe, if someone in their own life happens to be going through something similar, they will now notice the signs, and they will know just how bad it can get.
    Everyone has their own opinion, non of which are more important then anyone else. But for me, I think both types of books are important. Sadly, life doesn’t always have happy endings, and this book shows that. But you are also right that everyone needs a little bit of hope in their life, and especially for those who are struggling, they need something to life for.

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  11. I’m about 2/3rds of the way into this book and don’t think I can finish it. I’ve got a bipolar sister and one of my son’s best friends is bipolar. They are both living fairly decent productive lives. I don’t want suicide to be the story people take away from a book about mental illness.

  12. I’m so glad I read your review. It’s been about two months since I finished reading All The Bright Places. I’m an avid reader and I read quite a few novels that deal with mental illness and suicide, but not a single one left me feeling as bad as this one did and I honestly regret reading it. Maybe the story hit too close to home for me. It surely didn’t meet my expectations. Sure, it was beautifully written and especially Finch was an interesting character. The quirkiness and profundity (quoting poetry) were a bit too clichéd for my liking, but still enjoyable. My concern with this book is that it glorifies mental illness and suicide. I’m not saying that this story needed a happy ending, but its ending left me shocked. First family, friends and even his girlfriend fail Finch… and after what happens to him, it doesn’t take them too long to get over it. Violet’s life is a much better and brighter one, thanks to Finch. Finding hope and inspiration in someone’s death is a deeply disturbing concept. One thing that’s common in suicidal people is that they think their loved ones would be better off without them – which is not true, obviously, but mental illnesses messes with people’s minds in such a deep way that it makes them believe others see them the way they see themselves, and that they’re nothing but a burden. All The Bright Places actually confirms this and it truly disgusts me. Reading this book is not only dangerous to people suffering from mental illnesses but also to those who have friends who are mentally ill and suicidal. Suicide should be prevented at all costs, and NEVER accepted as the only option.

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  14. CAN’T THERE BE A SEQUEL TO THIS BOOK WHERE FINCH WOULD BE FOUND JUST TO GIVE PEOPLE WITH DEPRESSION HOPE THAT THEY CAN SURVIVE IT? VIOLET’S LIFE MIGHT BE COMPLETE WITHOUT HIM BUT THAT EMPTY BIG SPACE WON’T LEAVE

  15. Look I don’t understand why people say this has a bad message yes not all people die from depression or bipolar disorder but THERE ARE some that died and it’s sad and not fair but it’s true the author has experienced this as she said her friend and grandpa died. She told her story that was sad but it happens and wanted to show the people. I think that this book would help people with depression as well because they would realise that they leave people behind and therw are people who love them and they can get help. This book shows some of the sad, true and unfair part of the life

  16. Hello!

    I’ve just started reading All The Bright Places, and I can surely say that how depression feels like has been expressed correctly in this book.

    As a person who also suffers from depression (and social anxiety), I wasn’t sure about whether or not I should read the book. I thought: “If my bad thoughts are stronger than ever right now,why should I risk the only thread of sanity that I’ve left by reading this book?”… I began to read the book anyway…

    As you, I went into this book with my guard very high, and I’m constantly remembering myself that this is just a book and that the words I’m reading are somebody else’s, not my own. But I can’t help but to agree with every thought and feeling Finch has, not Violet. I’ve noticed that I’m more like Finch.

    Now, about the fact that the means of recovery, therapists, and medicines where awfully portrayed… Well… I know that this book should have had a message of hope for us, and that these means of recovery should have portrayed in a good way as to make them look more appealing to us but… What teens think about these methods are actually what the characters showed. At least it was like that for me.

    My dislike towards therapists began when I was 12, and being treated for anorexia. My parents forced me to go to the therapist because they said I was sick for not wanting to eat and for throwing up. Luckily, I recovered from that. And I recovered by myself, by my own means. The therapist had nothing to do with it. The therapist would only make me angry because she pretended that she understood, she made me tell her everything just so she could later tell my parents about it, and then they would tell me off for having such “stupid” thoughts.

    I’m not being treated by a therapist now. I haven’t even been diagnosed with depression and anxiety by one, but there’s no need to, because I know what I have. And I know that these awful thoughts are not proper of a normal, happy person. And, about the medication… If I take them, who am I going to be then? I’m so used to having my mind always full with these thoughts, what would I do without them? How would I feel? What can I think of?

    Anyway, back on the main topic: I began reading All The Bright Places, and I know it is probably a mistake, but I’m willing to use this book to rebuild myself instead of letting it shatter me. As soon as I started the book, I created an anonymous blog to share my journey through my self-recovery. I’m going to use the book and its contents for my own good.

    I am willing to change, and I am going to change. As I read something that should be putting me to sleep forever, I’m going to make it turn me stronger and more awake that I have ever been. That’s why, in honor of the book, I’ve titled my blog “My Bright Places.”

    I’m going to recover.

  17. I believe that this book shouldn’t be discussed bc everyone understands the book differently. What ı got from it was that because Finch was bipolar he knew that there were some people who loved him But who is he really? Which personality did they love? which of those personalities was himself? The other thing that was shown here is how life ends just like that and some questions you dont get answers to and thats OK you need to let that go you need to let inevitablity and oblivion go because they can tear you apart but even though Finch killed himself Violet was the survivor and Violet was the one who was strong. as I said everyone understands ideas and writing differently maybe if I had depression my thoughts couldnt have been the same but as a person whose best friend was depressed and a self harmer also their brother this book made me understand them alot better and that is exactly what we need more of people who understand and you probably think I dont REALLY understand and you’re right but the thing is niether do you. So to sum up depression is a very sensetive topic everyone protaits it differently and this is just Jennifer Nivens perspective how you recive it is up to you

  18. “In his absence Finch goes from being an interesting, well-rounded character to a manic pixie dream-boy. Prior to killing himself he left all sort of special messages for Violet to find, final love letters to the wonder of their romance. During this section Violet doesn’t question what was going through Finch’s mind or the tragedy of suicide. Instead it’s all about finding the next whimsical message and ultimately giving Violet the strength to move on with her life.”

    This made me gag. I hated Thirteen Reasons Why for how it treated depression and suicide, and it sounds like this book has a similar message. I also can’t stand how so many books for teens demonize medication and therapy, and we rarely get an opposing viewpoint.

    I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety, depression, and social phobia when I was 19, but I’d put off getting treatment for over a year. I never even told my parents that I was suffering severe anxiety since age 6 and thinking about suicide since age 15. Part of it was because all the negative messages about mental illness and meds I’d absorbed from media had taken root in my mind (and I wasn’t in my right state of mind then). Mental illness sapped away years of my life, and medication and therapy helped me get some control over my life again. Reading a book like this when I was at my worst would have just made it harder to get help.

  19. I disagree with you in several ways. I do not feel that “All the Bright Places” attempts to stigmatize medication or therapy . I think it does make us realize how difficult it is to access the true thoughts and feelings of someone suffering from mental illness. It definitely suggests medication could have been good for Finch had ANYONE he loved or cared about recognized the warning signs. His mother is completely self-absorbed and his dad suffers from mental illness as well. With this in mind, we have his counselors at school. As an educator, I can say this gave me more incentive to follow through with phone calls where I keep landing in a dead end. Therapists need access to all their resources. Finch took great steps in ensuring his counselor wouldn’t know the truth. As a parent, this book as taught me to be ever vigilant. It’s sad to think Finch would have been okay had just one person actually paid attention to him.

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  24. I totally agree that the author did not entirely handle this well. In fact, I got even more depressed when I got to the ending that an eccentric, amazing boy like Finch, no matter how much we deny it, killed himself because people in the book didn’t care too much. It is sad to see these forms of help to be demonized, as you all claim, because depressed people like me are desperately searching for anything to keep us beating, and this book can make anyone feel like help is nonexistent. As one who is recovering from depression, there are people who do care and are willing to help if you reach out to them. I know because I did and it helped a lot. I was also disappointed because it seemed like Finch’s experience with violet was only false hope…I really expected that things would change for him, for the better because he needs to see that he’s not worthless, that he is full of possibilities and full of life. That this world isn’t all cruel and cold, that not everyone are shallow, selfish creatures trying to survive life. There is good in this world, and what a depressed person desperately needs is to see that good and also see the good in themselves. Unfortunately, this book had a lot of good in it like Finch’s adventure with violet etc…but in the end, it seemed to not matter when, in reality, these things should, especially for one who is searching for hope.

  25. Thank you for the review,& for all the comments. Reading the book, I just had this feeling and couldn’t finish it. I wanted to know if my guess was right-& reading this confirms. & with most people feeling terrible at the end, I am so thankful for your review and the comments. I usually don’t like spoilers and can make it through depressing stories, but Finch was just so heavy for me-& i could already tell it was a self sacrifice. I could see all his love for her, but it was the more typical boy love and saves girl and girl doesnt return it the same manner and i didnt want it to be true. & knowing friends with depression and suicide, wasnt sure if this would be a good fit. Im about halfway through, wont be finishing. Finch’s mentality & identifying with it in a way was creating more of a downward spiral personally than anything. It’s like you said, the book leaves no hope. I felt it wouldnt. So this is good to know. Thank you.

  26. Hey I am very pleased to find your review because i had been thinking of buying this book for my son and now i am like nooooooooooooooooooooo thank you

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  28. Working Rachel on

    “It’s a book for people with friends who commit suicide…In his absence Finch goes from being an interesting, well-rounded character to a manic pixie dream-boy. Prior to killing himself he left all sort of special messages for Violet to find, final love letters to the wonder of their romance. During this section Violet doesn’t question what was going through Finch’s mind or the tragedy of suicide. Instead it’s all about finding the next whimsical message and ultimately giving Violet the strength to move on with her life…“If you die the right way, you can end up being an inspiration to others.”

    YES. I wrote a book about suicide where there was intentionally no “reason” for the suicide. It got close to publication, but didn’t make it, maybe partially because of that. Since then I’ve read dozens of YA books about suicide and have been really bothered by how so many of them make suicide into a “puzzle” or romanticize it in one way or another. Most people don’t leave notes, and most people don’t have a clear-cut reason for committing suicide like bullying or abuse. I’ve never heard of a real-life case that involves an elaborate rabbit trail or a mystery like 13 Reasons Why or this book. And I really, really hate that this is what we are telling teens about suicide. Suicide is not a “gift” to those you leave behind. In my experience, it left the survivors angry, guilty, and resentful. (Not trying to blame those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts…just coming at it from the perspective of the survivors.)

  29. I have a question on something you have said in your review. When Finch died what do you mean the book showed it true colors? But after reading your review I totally agree with what you have said and the message from this story. Try not to die but if you are going to do it in a cool way to be remembered.

  30. I agree, while I don’t agree with those saying Finch’s character shouldn’t’ve gone down that spiral, it’s nice to see a book that is accurate in the sense that not everyone gets a happy ending- BUT!!! It is true that the author should’ve given more hope or shed some light on therapy at the end. Like maybe violet could’ve gone and seen someone and like thought something about how if only finch has tried to get help, then that would imply that while you may not like the idea of help, you still need it. But Finch reminded me of my boyfriend of 2 years in EVERY way. I mean the homelife, mental stuff, personas, wanderlust, EVERYTHING screamed “wow it’s almost like the author knows our guy…” and you can assume that because i know him like that, i have spent a lot of time scared he could go off his medicine and do something like finch did, so then reading it as someone with depression and in love with someone who also has depression, i connected to Violet and Finch VERY well, so I cried for a day after reading the last few chapters. I cried from the time finch goes missing to the end and i got very depressed again and had to take some time to get up and feel better again. I just think the book needs a trigger warning if there isnt going to be a little bit of light. I felt like i lost my boyfriend after reading that and all the ways violet blames herself are the thoughts im very prone to. Great book, just think it needs a warning.

  31. It’s so good and refreshing to find a review like yours. To be honest, I love tragedy for tragedy itself- suicide, running away, death, crying and sadness in general- but I keep it to myself because it’s not the best thing to talk about, right? Haha
    Anyways, I’m not diagnosed but I strongly think that I’m depressed, so reading this book felt great at the beginning (I completely related to both Violet and Finch) and awful towards the end. I saw it coming. Ever since I read Me Before You, I always imagine the worst end for this kind of books, just in case, so I wasn’t really impressed at the end and didn’t cry much.
    But the important thing here, is that I got really triggered because while I was reading it, I was having this kind of depression episodes, where you feel the weight of the world too heavy- and made me contemplate suicide in the future as the only thing to do, as something relieving and poetic. Travel to the sea and drown myself, leave a long, poetic note. Now I see how harmful this book is. It should have a trigger warning. It shouldn’t be praised, it shouldn’t have been published. I just hope it doesn’t trigger suicidal people to actually kill themselves.
    And I feel so frustrated, because I know my opinion is just a drop of water and tons of people will defend this book and romanticize depression and mental illness!!

  32. I completely agree with everything you’ve said here. Currently it’s 1:00 am and I was so obsessed with this book that I stayed up to read as much as I could, but as soon as I got up to the part where Finch goes missing, I had to stop myself. I knew exactly what was coming, having seen 13 Reasons Why and read my fair share of books that follow a similar path of romanticizing suicide. This book made me feel so many different ways, from hopeful towards the beginning to utterly destroyed at the end. I am 15 years old and have never been diangnosed with depression or anxiety, but both of my parents are bipolar and I have struggled with some form of self diagnosed depression since I was 13. Plus, I have had suicide effect my life more times than it should have at such a young age, both from the people in my life and from myself. This book has drained so much of the hope I had for Finch and people like him. This book, as much as I hate to admit it, has a dangerous and destructive ending. I will not be finishing it because I honestly just can’t bring myself to let another person like Finch go.

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  35. While there is something to be said for positive representation for people with depression to give them hope, there’s just as much to be said for representation of when things do not end positively. As someone with depression, obviously it’s difficult to read books like these and relate to the characters, find yourself in them, only to watch them die. But as sad as it is, many people with depression do end up committing suicide. it is a reality and you can’t just decide a book didn’t handle depression well because the depressed character committed suicide. Finch was a well rounded character even through his death, and Violet’s reaction to his death served a purpose. As someone who contemplates suicide, I often find myself holding on for the simple fact that i would be hurting a lot of people if i couldn’t hold on any longer, and feeling the loss of a character like finch and seeing violet’s reaction to losing him serves a special purpose of reminding those of us who feel this way that there are people who care. Finch was undiagnosed, he was depressed, he felt like he was losing himself and while it would’ve been great to see him recover and find peace with himself, the devasting tragedy of his death to me still serves a purpose and is not done poorly.

  36. This novel has so many mixed reviews and controversy surrounding it , and I must say I don’t quite understand why. Sure, it has a way of demonitizing certain elements of depression and treatment but is that not the point? To really see it raw and in the flesh? Depression IS the absence of hope and nowhere did it say that the author had to present a book about the hopefulness surrounding depression. She wrote a story, from her own experience, rooted from her own heartache. Teenagers do need to read stories that make them hopeful, I completely agree, but I truly believe we are meant to read the things that make us ache as well. You cannot know hope without struggle and loss, it’s inevitable. I struggle with depression too and this book while it did make my heart hurt, provided me with some insight as well. I was able to relate, even if the character committed suicide. This was a story written raw . Written in heartache. We cannot expect every story to end happily, we can only gain the insight that was meant to be gained, and move forward.

  37. ThatWriter21098 on

    Very good review of the book, but “All the Bright Places” is a book without a happy ending…not every novel has to have hope. While I think your review is correct, it is not REAL LIFE!!!! Yes, suicidal/depressed people should NOT read this, it does make people open their eyes to mental illness. I have depression and found the book to be eye opening. It made me cry at the end, but life can happen sometimes.

  38. Was given this book as a birthday gift and am wishing I hadn’t bothered read it… I have been reading it slowly, trying not to get to the awful part that I worried was coming… I have just finished literally sobbing in to my partner “I just wanted a happier ending…” For those of us who can feel so hopeless, a little hope would have been nice!

    I am now “accidently” losing this book so my sister doesn’t read it and have the same heartbreak!

  39. Yep. Just finished reading it. This book was suggested to me by a friend in order to cope with my depression. It did the opposite. No currently suicidal person should read this because as much as i could relate to the character finch, his dialogues and thoughts are still very very triggering for a suicidal person.
    This book is for people who are trying to help people with mental illnesses. People who need to notice suicidal people around them before its too late.
    I would not recommend this book to someone having anxiety who has the slightest chance of turning suucidal.
    Its gonna take a while for me to get normal now.

  40. It’s really interesting to read a review like this. I have no experience with depression so your review really showed a new perspective to me, thank you for that! I completely understand you when you said that this isn’t a book written for people with depression but for people with friends who commit suicide. But this made me question something: is it possible to write a book that is both for the people who have depression as wel as the people who have friends with depression? I know this post is quite old but i still hope you can reply because i would very much like to hear your thoughts!

    I have loved this book for many years, and I still love it as i think it’s beautifully written and tells a real story (though as you said, there is definitely room for improvement).

    Anyway thank you again for the new insight this review gave me!
    (my phone crashed so i hope i didn’t post this comment twice oops)

  41. I disagree on almost every point made in this review. In this book Finch and Violet are portrayed to have very different lives and very different outcomes to their specific situations. Violet was able to cope much more with the death of Finch after she had come to figure out ways to distract herself and deal with her sisters death. However, Finch was not as successful (clearly seen as he ends up committing suicide). When you stated “The book also does an awful job of portraying the means to recovery for depression or any mental illness. ” that made my blood boil. In the book both Violet and Finch receive counselors. While the portrayal of the counselors may be harsh, in the public school systems it is often a sad reality.

    ” I have seen this novel advertised as a story about teenage depression, but I don’t think that’s quite right. It’s a book for people with friends who commit suicide.” That statement appalled me. From personal experience, this book attempts, and for many cases accurately, represents what the life of a teenager living with depression is like. We are shown BOTH points of view in this story for a reason. Even after the death of Finch Violet clearly makes an effort to better herself, knowing that she could very well end up in a very bad mental situation.

    “Instead any hint of medical treatment is treated with disgust and outdated ideas.” As previously stated, both Violet and Finch see counselors at their school, and if counselors are seen as “outdated” then i would love to see what teenagers are using as coping mechanisms at schools especially.

    Overall, I felt as if there were hastily thrown out comments and suggestions which were clearly not true about characters in the book. I would strongly encourage everyone to read and get their own opinion of the book. Having read All The Bright Places more times than i can count, and it now being my favorite book, I will say the more you read it the more you will get out of it, depressed or not.

  42. Pingback: On My Bookshelf // 03 - Dreams, etc. // Minneapolis Lifestyle Blog

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