"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Nevin

Violet and Finch meet atop the school's bell tower. Both of them were contemplating suicide and the presence of the other saved both of them. Violet, a popular girl, was very depressed and had isolated herself after the accident that killed her sister. Finch, a misfit, did outrageous things that equally repelled and intrigued others. They each weren't sure that life was worth living but both desperately wanted it to be. When they became partners in the Geography class assignment to discover Indiana, they both jumped in with both feet. They set about to discover the oddest, most quirky places and things in Indiana and in the process to find themselves. The problem, however, is that doing fun, quirky things doesn't necessarily change the chemistry of the brain and suicide remained a real threat.

Not wanting to spoil this book for future readers I really can't say more about the plot, so let me talk about a few things this book caused me to think about.

1. Teen suicide---years ago I attended a workshop on the topic. I was horrified to learn about how common suicide ideation is. But because it is so common, it is alright to broach the subject with the depressed teen. "Are you thinking about killing yourself?" is an appropriate question. If the answer is yes, then subsequent questions can get at the immediacy and urgency. The adults in this book pretty much dropped the ball in this respect.

2. Suicide and school---over the years I've known a few students who have completed suicide and then the school officials are up against a tough decision of how to respond. If they don't do anything students are left with no outlet for their pain and grief. If they do something like an assembly to memorialize the person then some students in the crowd may think if they kill themselves they too will get all this attention. Of course that is warped thinking, but if a person is depressed their thinking may not be very clear. I remember years ago a student's friends planted a tree on campus after the death of their friend. Then they and other students would skip class and hang out at the tree, smoking pot and crying. It was extremely unhealthy and not a good idea.

3. Adults, get the help you need so that you can be good parents to your children---after reading All the Bright Places I commented to my daughter, who volunteers at a crisis hotline, how disturbing it was that the parents just ignored their children. She replied, "You'd be surprised how common that is." Sad.

4. If reading this book causes alarm, open a dialogue with a trusted adult. If that adult drops the ball, find someone else who can help you. Don't give up!

5. Cool assignment---I loved the idea of Discover Indiana for an assignment. Violet and Finch found some really funky things as they ventured out: a huge paint ball, a cluster of bookmobiles with free checkouts, a poetry point. They didn't go for the usual stuff. That got me thinking, what weird, quirky things could I find in Washington State if I was looking?

6. A quote from the book, not all the book is sad and it doesn't just focus on suicide---
“I learned that there is good in this world, if you look hard enough for it. I learned that not everyone is disappointing, including me, and that a 1,257 bump in the ground can feel higher than a bell tower if you’re standing next to the right person.” ― Jennifer NivenAll the Bright Places 
7. Apparently the book has already been optioned for a movie and the cast has been selected. Read it quick! (Germ Magazine.)

8. Germ Magazine, inspired by the book, is now a REAL magazine on-line where teens can go to discover real life. Check it out!!!!!

Rating 5/5

I reviewed an ARC of the book given to me by a third party.

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