What is up with YA books and how sad they are?? This is not a new thing of course. I remember girls loving Lurlene McDaniel books when I was in middle school and high school. Anyone remember the book Don’t Die My Love? Back then the books were a little more obvious when pulling on our heartstrings. Maybe it has something to do with teens wanting to feel all the emotions, deeply, but these kind of books have always been very popular
All the bright places by Jennifer Niven was requested by a 7th grade student and then recommend strongly to me by an 8th grade student (“I read this in a day, Ms. Serrano!!”). Well it took me longer to read than a day, but it was fast, funny and heartbreaking.
The book starts with Finch, an outsider with a bad reputation standing on the top of his school’s bell tower considering jumping but then changes his mind, thinking of the mess he’d leave behind. He turns to see Violet, a girl in his grade who just lost her sister in a car accident on the ledge and talks her down. This starts an unlikely partnership (looking for off the beaten path curiosities in Indiana) that becomes a life changing love. And then, you know, tears. Lots of tears. It touches (maybe too lightly?) on mental illness (bipolar disorder), grief and loss and first love.
There were a lot of things I liked about this book. First, it took place in Indiana, my second home. There is even a Crawfordsville shout out (C’ville is where I went to high school):
Finch and Violet and beautifully written and you care about both of them. The relationships feel realistic. Although I don’t know if teenagers talk on Facebook very much any more. One downside that I’ve read in reviews is that there are no consequences for the bulling that Finch faces at school, mainly due to his mental illness. And I don’t know how realistic that is. And that it romanticizes mental illness and suicide. I can see that but I can also see how this is a starting point for healing and understanding for teens. So, maybe mixed review?
I love reading YA books, the only problem is that now that I am 33 I am way more likely to take the parents’ side. I kept on yelling “Violet talk to your mother!!!!”
After this and Wolf Hollow I need to read something lighter! Next on the docket is The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende, so that is not likely!!