Two teenagers climb to the top of the school’s bell tower, both thinking of suicide. There, they meet for the first time and begin a story that’s arguably the most heart-wrenching I’ve ever read.
Dubbed as a blend of The Fault in our Stars and Eleanor and Park, this book tells the story of Theodore Finch – a troubled teenager who often thinks of suicide – and Violet Markey – a girl trying to cope with the death of her sister while trying to figure out the point of her life.
The two characters take turns narrating the story. This is perhaps what makes this story so beautiful: their voices are raw, original, relatable, and yet so incredibly different. Finch is full of energy, but at the same time, cringingly depressed. Violet tries coming to terms with her sister’s road-accident death (and her own survival), for which she blames herself.
Among the many, many things this book gets right, the depiction of the role of society and parents in relation to suicide and mental health is perhaps the most powerful aspect. The struggles are relatable and honest, which only makes it more devastating.
But this isn’t a completely sad story. Though suicide is the main theme of the book – introduced right from page one, and might make readers cry at some point (it certainly made me) – it also includes uplifting moments. Moments that show depression and the horrifying effect of stigmas and labels are balanced with the exciting, beautiful parts of life: the lovely parts, the bright places.
I’d recommend All the Bright Places to anyone. In fact, everyone should read this book. It will touch you, devastate you, and stay with you.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.