Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 457
All the Bright Places, written by Jennifer Niven, is a story about two suicidal teenagers named Violet and Theodore (Finch). Both teens are seniors in high school and are very different. Violet is a popular cheerleader while Finch is a loner. The two meet one night when they both climb the bell tower at their school on the same night for the same purpose, to jump off. The two begin a romantic relationship that encourages a positive change in Violet's life while having the opposite effect on Finch. Finch eventually is overcome by his mental illness and commits suicide. This story has many themes including: dealing with loss, guilt, mental illness, and family.
Both Violet and Finch have dealt with loss in their lives. Violet's sister is killed in a car accident while Finch must deal with his father's abandonment of his family. Violet deals with loss by closing in on herself and losing interest in all of her hobbies. Finch and his mother's relationship suffers after his father leaves because his mother can no long care about Finch's issues. Dealing with loss and death is something many young adults face in their lives daily. Violet is an example for these young adult readers, because she learns to overcome her losses and learns that life continues to happen.
Guilt is another theme in this novel. Violet is very guilty that her sister was killed in the accident and she was not. She has intense survivor's remorse. Another person who feels guilt in this novel is the school counselor. He feels guilty that he is unable to stop Finch from committing suicide. Learning from these characters, readers can understand that talking to people about your guilt and other feelings can help tremendously.
Mental illness is a large theme in this book. Both the main characters are struggling with depression. Finch also has bipolar disorder. He does not want to accept this diagnosis and does not ever receive help. His struggles with mental illness eventually lead him to commit suicide. This novel shows readers that it is important to talk about mental illnesses in order to get help.
A final theme in this novel is the theme of family. Violet and Finch come from different family backgrounds. Violet's family is very supportive and caring. Finch's family is quite the opposite. His father is very abusive and leaves him and his mother. Both Violet and Finch love their families. The importance of having a family is a theme that is present in a lot of literature. Again, this theme encourages the idea of talking to someone if ever feeling suicidal or unhappy.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Website.
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