Insta Review: All the Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven

Insta Review gives you a new book recommendation in under a minute. Go ahead, time it!

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Recommended by the same gals that sent Thirteen Reasons Why my way, I gritted my teeth starting All the Bright Places. It seems like this has been the year of teen suicide stories, and I have a hard time stomaching that plotline. But All the Bright Places didn’t follow Thirteen Reasons’ revenge fantasy, instead focusing on a blooming love story between two teens trying to save themselves (and each other) from depression. Herione Violet is battling survivor’s guilt from the car accident that killed her sister, and Finch is desperate to stay “awake” and not fall back into the darkness of his demons (bipolar disorder?). They collide on the school’s bell tower, their conversation bringing them both back from the literal and figurative edge. I liked the way Bright Places’ characters focused on their own mental health issues instead of blaming other people for their struggles, and appreciated the slivers of joy that they allowed themselves to experience even while having a hard time. However, in the 250 pages that I read, neither depression, guilt, or bipolar disorder were called out by name (hopefully that came later in the book). As usual, adults were portrayed as clueless background characters, stereotypically either cruelly unaware or desperate to connect and please. Where have all the three-dimensional adult characters gone? I quit halfway through because I wasn’t enjoying it, but I’m glad my older middle school readers have taken their passion for Thirteen Reasons Why and used it to keep reading. #bookreview #youngadult #abandoned

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