While All the Bright Places is publishing today, I got a chance to read it in November. I’ve thought about this book a lot since then. I’ve seen a few negative reviews and I’ve considered what they have to say. The conclusion I’ve reached is that I recognized these kids. I’ve seen them in my halls and called them out for their antics, and prayed they would live through another weekend if I let them out of my sight. The authenticity of these characters will touch readers who know people like Theodore and Violet. This book will resonate with you and punch you in the cry box. If you don’t believe they are real people because you cannot fathom teens like these, you may fail to connect. This is one of my top reads for the new year. I’m recommending it to students left and right. They go to school with these characters. If you liked The Fault in Our Stars or Thirteen Reasons Why, or Eleanor and Park, add this one to your TBR list.
Theodore struggles with periods of overwhelming depression. Violet can seem to figure out how to live since her sister died. When the two meet while contemplating suicide on the same ledge, they find that some things might be worth living for. The characters were people I recognized, believed in, and quickly learned to care for. The plot was paced well, allowing time for a relationship to develop without dragging. I was engaged in the outcome and read it straight through in one sitting. I thought the themes were well suited to the intended audience and came from a pair of sincere and believable teen voices. I am still thinking very hard about the way this one ended, and it is going to stick with me for a while. Language, sensuality, and situations are edgy, as is any good contemporary YA that reads authentically to its intended audience. It is appropriate for mature high school readers.