Mary-Jane placed her small bag of belongings in the little rowing boat that rocked on the lapping water at the edge of the jetty. She had brought her favourite things; her fluffball-topped pen, her unicorn notepad, and the jewellery box with the dancing ballerina.
She only had to make it to the island. One and a half miles of water, and the monsters would never catch her again.
She picked up the oar and paddled, firm and smooth, keeping her body low. A black shadow formed below her. A white light beckoned from the island.
There are twelve of us sat around table which dominates the small wood-panelled room. It is covered in a thick red velvet cloth. Heavy curtains block the watery twilight. At the centre, a huge crystal bowl holds our belongings – a watch, a wedding band, a pendant …
Why is it always jewellery?
I clasp the strangers hands next to me. One a huge, sweating palm, the other a thin, liver-spotted claw, like dried out paper.
I concentrate hard on the military medal I have offered, wishing with all my bones that he will speak to me.
I have really missed taking part in the Friday Fictioneers the past few weeks but life got in the way. It’s good to be back.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—six stories above the ground—it’s unclear who saves whom. And when the unlikely pair teams up on a class project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, they go, as Finch says, where the road takes them: the grand, the small, the bizarre, the beautiful, the ugly, the surprising—just like life.
Soon it’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a bold, funny, live-out-loud guy, who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet forgets to count away the days and starts living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
This is a heart-wrenching, unflinching story of love shared, life lived, and two teens who find one another while standing on the edge.
I’ve been reading a lot of YA books this year and I thought I’d give the honour of my first ever book review to my favourite book of the year; All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.
This book grabbed me from the opening lines when we meet Finch standing on the bell tower of his school considering jumping off. We immediately know that he is very different, very intelligent and very quirky. He is considered a weirdo and a legend at school. This is where he meets Violet, who is also considering jumping off the ledge as she is struggling to cope with the loss of her sister.The two are paired up on a school project to visit their local landmarks and so they start a journey of not only geographical discovery but physical and emotional discovery too.
I loved the characters of Finch and Violet, even their names are beautiful. Finch is a lot of fun, but also a bit of a mess and he can’t really figure out why. Violet matches Finch in intelligence and wit but he teaches her to let go and not worry so much about what others think. He shows her how to see the beauty in things that have been lost on her since the accident. I fell in love with Finch and Violet and I was rooting for them.
Niven’s descriptions of places and characters are truly exquisite and Finch’s lessons also rubbed off on me, as I’m sure they would any reader. I would recommend this book to everyone for that reason. It is classed as young adult but there is a powerful message in this tale that we can all relate to.
All the Bright Places has won many awards, and rightly so. It is simply beautiful and will stay in my heart forever.
5 stars from me! (I’m sure you’d guessed that already)