Yesterday I finished All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. Reading this book was like stepping out of the shadows into the bright light of life. This book is beautiful and
heartbreaking and oh so lovely. I'm still mourning the loss of it's pages and thought what better way to sort out my thoughts than by writing them for all of you invisible readers.
When I heard this book was supposed to be a cross between Thirteen Reasons Why and Eleanor and Park I felt extreme trepidation, but also excitement. Both of those books are some of my favorites and I knew I HAD to read this.
Like most of the books I acquire, this too has an interesting story. You see, invisible reader, I originally purchased this for my best friend for Christmas. Now it's February and we still haven't exchanged Christmas gifts and this book has been begging me to fall into its pages. I finally gave in Friday evening.
I spent the etirety of yesterday consumed by the lives of Theodore Finch and Violet (Ultraviolet Remarkey-able) Markey. This book was exquisite and the first book in a while that has allowed me to shut off my writer brain and simply enjoy a book for its magic and meaning. And this book was magic!
The dual point of views capture the essense of humanity; completely perfect in their imperfections. Finch and Violet are flawed and real and broken. But who isn't? I think some of the best people I've ever known have been broken. I know I used to be broken. Sometimes I feel that shattered girl from high school deep inside and it makes me sad to think about what might have happened if books hadn't saved her. I've touched on this briefly in a letter I wrote, which you can find here.
In high school, I was bookish and shy and too afraid to share my stories with anyone, let alone my peers. I fell out of a group of friends my sophmore year of high school and spent the next two trying to find my place in a world that didn't care much either way. It was painful. I'm not going to sugar coat it because that's not what Jennifer Niven does in her book. She has the courage to share the darkness that sometimes seeps into our lives.
To those girls who made me feel unworthy, unwanted, and well, like a freak, thank you. Without your cruelty and the finality of your friendship, I might still be that scared girl who refused to share anything with the world. But now, I am writer. I write here. I write books and stories and poems and I share them with people. I'm not sure what you're doing with your lives now, but I hope you're better people than you were in high school. I know I am.
Jennifer Niven and her magnificent novel helped give me the courage to share this
with you. I want to tell all of you that it gets better. I want to tell you that someone loves you and that someone is thinking about you. But most of all, I want to tell you about the importance of books and stories and what can happen when we share them with others and when we find them ourselves.
I'm serious when I say books saved me. Books were my Theodore Finch. I'm so happy that this book exists and that someone somewhere might find this and decide that the shadows of life are only temporary. That somewhere there is light and that someday they will find that bright place.
There were so many amazing words of wisdom thoughout this book that I think it would be difficult to quote them all here. And I'm not sure the lines that I loved would feel the same to you. Maybe you need to read this book for yourself to find the words that might change you. Because that's what this book did for me. It changed me. It helped me believe in books again. It helped me find that sad, broken girl from high school and share her story with you.
I hope you'll take the time to read Jennifer Niven's book and to share your story with someone else. It just might be the thing that saves them.