Last week i talked about “We Were Liars” and “FaNGIRL” in my part 1 of the Zoella WHSmith Summer Bookclub. If you haven’t already, please check that out and i hope you enjoy reading about the next two books.
All The Bright Places– Jennifer Niven
I actually read this book last year as i was exploring the subject of suicide partners for a story i was writing for an assignment. It’s beautiful and tragic and comforting all at the same time.
Theodore Finch. On paper, he’s not my kind of character but i fell in love with him from the word go! He’s so interesting and intoxicating and the reader is so infatuated with him as a character. He seems really sure of himself, despite being teased at school as being a “freak” he seems really confident in his own skin which i think makes him more complicated as a character as he’s so set on killing himself.
What i love most about this book as there isn’t a “reason” for Theodore’s mental health issues, not a big traumatic juicy one anyway and i think if you take one thing away from this book, let it be that. Sometimes there isn’t a reason why you develop anxiety or depression, it happens and Jennifer Niven is teaching the world a really important lesson through Finch.
Violet Markey represents how curveballs from life can totally turn your world upside down. She’s represents how it feels when you’re sixteen and high school is your whole life, she can’t see any further as the grieves the loss of her sister. I find Violet quite opposite to Finch, she wanders around a bit lost, a bit stuck and really finds the strength to be herself as her relationship with Finch develops.
It is a love story albeit the circumstances are quite different to your typical love story. I think it’s quite symbolic that all is never lost and i think subtly through the story, the author was making me think about deeper things subconsciously.
Another thing i want to mention is the parents. Most people i’ve spoken to see the parents as a bit useless, they’re there because you can’t have two teenagers who have no mention of parents. I disagree, i think the parents represent a few things.
Firstly, the stigma of suicide. A taboo in our parents generation that we’re trying to get rid of in our own generation. I still find my grandparents clam up whenever suicide is brought up because that’s how they’ve lived their lives, mental health wasn’t spoken about the way we aim to encourage now. I found the parents to a certain extent would turn a blind eye to their children’s problems- for different reasons- but the generation gap between our generation and our parents has never been so wide before. Life has continually moved on but i feel more so with the introduction of the internet, we’re much more exposed to these things than our parents ever were.
Secondly, people are complicated and we pick and chose what bits we expose of ourselves and to whom we expose it to. I find this really comforting although in real life, i’ve been fortunate enough to never really experience grief, particularly by this nature. Finch really hides the deep nature of his thoughts from his family & friends so they are left in the dark and what really gets my mind going about the subject of suicide is the people left behind. Naturally they will relive the past- looking for signs. This book is so important because it shows Finch trying to hide his true feelings from his family, so i find it quite comforting.
While being a truly beautiful story that will take your emotions on a high speed journey, there is a lot of deeper messages that Jennifer Niven portrays so beautifully in her writing. If you haven’t already, please read this.
Also if you enjoyed this book or are interested in the subject, take a look at “My Heart & Other Black Holes” by Jasmine Warga (i read that before i read All The Bright Places) and it’s another beautiful story based around the same themes- it might be my favourite book i’ve read in the last year.
The Sky is Everywhere– Jandy Nelson
One of the main themes in this book is grief which is made clear in the first page. I don’t know whether this is a personal thing or not, but i found myself tip-toeing across the first chapter until the last page on which there is a line that that really hit home that grieving people continue with their lives. The line actually took knocked me for six if i’m being honest but it totally changed the dynamic in which i was reading the book.
I think the emotions Lennie was going through is portrayed beautifully in the book but also honestly. It’s portrayed she was quite content to live in her sisters shadows but i feel after she died she felt like she owed it to Bailey to live and she also didn’t have anyone else to hide behind.
It is a love story, Lennie falls for Joe Fontaine and they embark on a relationship. I found it hard to believe than in twenty years, they’ll still be together. There relationship didn’t speak to me in that way, i always seen it as more of a high school, first experience with love, infatuation with each other. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, it’s super sweet to read and i personally found the romance was just an added extra to the story.
The language in which Jandy Nelson uses when she writes is exquisite. So many lines just made my heart stop, i felt like i was having a love affair with the words on the page right from the beginning. At the same time, she’s addressing really important, real issues.
My favourite words in the WHOLE story :
‘It just dawned on me that i might be the author of my own story, but so is everyone else the author of their own stories, and sometimes, like now, there is no overlap.‘
– page 234, The Sky Is Everywhere- Jandy Nelson
This made me think about my own life. We’re all the stars of our own shows but we’re not the directors of the supporting cast. Sometimes that’s really hard to come to terms with, but i feel this issue was addressed really well in this book.
This is the first time i’ve read one of Jandy Nelson’s novels ( i actually believe this was her debut?) but i really enjoyed it and would definitely read more of her work because i love the way she writes.