The Light In The Darkness

“All The Bright Places” follows two struggling teenagers as they find happiness in each other


“All The Bright Places”- a novel by Jennifer Niven. This love story portrays a realistic journey of two teenagers struggling under the weight of their pasts.

When I first grabbed this novel off the library’s shelves, I was expecting a typical romance story. A story of two young teenagers that meet in a coffee shop as the sun breeches the windows and shines a light onto the girl’s porcelain face. They instantly fall in love at that moment and become inseparable, two young lovers joined at the hip, headed down a road of fun times and zero consequences. 

But when I flipped the first page of a novel that appeared to be just another fluff story, I realized this wasn’t about a dream world that could never be achieved, but reality. These two characters met on a bell tower as the thoughts of suicide bombarded their minds. Not in a coffee shop. They fell in love by overcoming their severe hardships together and bonded over the loss of those they love. Not because of her outward appearance. And they traveled down a road of depression, anxiety, and reality, not a yellow brick path filled with rainbows and sunshine. 

This novel expresses the darkness that envelopes teenagers. It paints a picture of two young people that are plagued by sadness brought upon by loss and abuse associated with their family members. However, despite the surface level scene filled with distraught images, there is an underlying message. Look no further than the seemingly contradictory title displaying that there is indeed a bright place, a place suffocated by the dark places. 

Despite the drowning of this bright spot, it reaches out its dwindling fingers to these teenagers in the form of each other. When they find one another, both contemplating killing themselves on their school’s tower as the remainder of their school stands around, waiting, some hoping they jump, and others praying they climb down, they stop each other. They talk the other down and they make their way to that ladder. They make their way down the steps. And they finally make their way to solid ground, back on Earth where they belong. 

From that moment on, they don’t automatically fall in love or even become friends. It takes weeks and a forced partnership on a history project for the two to even begin talking. However, after they do begin spending time with one another, they go wandering around their town to places that are normally left out of the travel booklets.  Both of them are too mature for their schools. Their minds are too extensive to be forced into the small box that is highschool. As a result, they wander to places that may bring them the smallest amount of joy. 

They soon realize that these places bring them happiness not because of their surroundings, but because they are in these moments together. This is where they finally realize they need each other. It takes an immense amount of time for this true relationship to form, not a slight moment. 

However, their “bright places” are not enough to make Finch, the male in the relationship, toss those suicidal thoughts out the window. Instead, he takes those thoughts and spreads them throughout his body. They take the entirety of his being over and all he can think about is ending it. Violet, the female,  is not enough to make him stay in this world. His sisters and mother aren’t enough. Nothing is enough when everything is going wrong. Finch ends his life. This reality shocked my world. Books had never before shown me that love can’t fix everything. Sometimes nobody can save those that they love. Despite the immense amount of tears and reflection that followed the ending of this book, I can express with complete certainty that it was one of the best novels I have ever read because it was one of the realest novels I have ever read.