All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places

by Jennifer Niven


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All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

The beloved New York Times bestseller that Entertainment Weekly described as “sparkling” and says “get[s] under your skin.” You won’t soon forget this heart-wrenching, unflinching story of love shared, life lived, and two teens who find each other while standing on the edge.
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death. Every day he thinks of ways he might kill himself, but every day he also searches for—and manages to find—something to keep him here, and alive, and awake.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her small Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
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. Soon it’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. . . .
“A do-not-miss for fans of Eleanor & Park and The Fault in Our Stars, and basically anyone who can breathe.” —Justine Magazine
“At the heart—a big one—of All the Bright Places lies a charming love story about this unlikely and endearing pair of broken teenagers.” —The New York Times Book Review 
“A heart-rending, stylish love story.” —The Wall Street Journal
“A complex love story that will bring all the feels.” —Seventeen Magazine
Impressively layered, lived-in, and real.” —

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385755917
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 09/13/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 375
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Jennifer Niven is the author of the New York Times and international bestseller All the Bright Places, as well as her new YA novel, Holding Up the Universe. She has also written four novels for adults—American Blonde, Becoming Clementine, Velva Jean Learns to Fly, and Velva Jean Learns to Drive—as well as three nonfiction books: The Ice Master, Ada Blackjack, and The Aqua Net Diaries, a memoir about her high school experiences. She grew up in Indiana and now lives with her fiancé and literary cats in Los Angeles. For more information, visit,, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.

Read an Excerpt


I am awake again. Day 6.

Is today a good day to die?

This is something I ask myself in the morning when I wake up. In third period when I'm trying to keep my eyes open while Mr. Schroeder drones on and on. At the supper table as I'm passing the green beans. At night when I'm lying awake because my brain won't shut off due to all there is to think about.

Is today the day?

And if not today--when?

I am asking myself this now as I stand on a narrow ledge six stories above the ground. I'm so high up, I'm practically part of the sky. I look down at the pavement below, and the world tilts. I close my eyes, enjoying the way everything spins. Maybe this time I'll do it--let the air carry me away. It will be like floating in a pool, drifting off until there's nothing.

I don't remember climbing up here. In fact, I don't remember much of anything before Sunday, at least not anything so far this winter. This happens every time--the blanking out, the waking up. I'm like that old man with the beard, Rip Van Winkle. Now you see me, now you don't. You'd think I'd have gotten used to it, but this last time was the worst yet because I wasn't asleep for a couple days or a week or two--I was asleep for the holidays, meaning Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. I can't tell you what was different this time around, only that when I woke up, I felt deader than usual. Awake, yeah, but completely empty, like someone had been feasting on my blood. This is day six of being awake again, and my first week back at school since November 14.

I open my eyes, and the ground is still there, hard and permanent. I am in the bell tower of the high school, standing on a ledge about four inches wide. The tower is pretty small, with only a few feet of concrete floor space on all sides of the bell itself, and then this low stone railing, which I've climbed over to get here. Every now and then I knock one of my legs against it to remind myself it's there.

My arms are outstretched as if I'm conducting a sermon and this entire not-very-big, dull, dull town is my congregation. "Ladies and gentlemen," I shout, "I would like to welcome you to my death!" You might expect me to say "life," having just woken up and all, but it's only when I'm awake that I think about dying.

I am shouting in an old-school-preacher way, all jerking head and words that twitch at the ends, and I almost lose my balance. I hold on behind me, happy no one seems to have noticed, because, let's face it, it's hard to look fearless when you're clutching the railing like a chicken.

"I, Theodore Finch, being of unsound mind, do hereby bequeath all my earthly possessions to Charlie Donahue, Brenda Shank-Kravitz, and my sisters. Everyone else can go f---- themselves." In my house, my mom taught us early to spell that word (if we must use it) or, better yet, not spell it, and, sadly, this has stuck.

Even though the bell has rung, some of my classmates are still milling around on the ground. It's the first week of the second semester of senior year, and already they're acting as if they're almost done and out of here. One of them looks up in my direction, as if he heard me, but the others don't, either because they haven't spotted me or because they know I'm there and Oh well, it's just Theodore Freak.

Then his head turns away from me and he points at the sky. At first I think he's pointing at me, but it's at that moment I see her, the girl. She stands a few feet away on the other side of the tower, also out on the ledge, dark-blond hair waving in the breeze, the hem of her skirt blowing up like a parachute. Even though it's January in Indiana, she is shoeless in tights, a pair of boots in her hand, and staring either at her feet or at the ground--it's hard to tell. She seems frozen in place.

In my regular, nonpreacher voice I say, as calmly as possible, "Take it from me, the worst thing you can do is look down."

Very slowly, she turns her head toward me, and I know this girl, or at least I've seen her in the hallways. I can't resist: "Come here often? Because this is kind of my spot and I don't remember seeing you here before."

She doesn't laugh or blink, just gazes out at me from behind these clunky glasses that almost cover her face. She tries to take a step back and her foot bumps the railing. She teeters a little, and before she can panic, I say, "I don't know what brings you up here, but to me the town looks prettier and the people look nicer and even the worst of them look almost kind. Except for Gabe Romero and Amanda Monk and that whole crowd you hang out with."

Her name is Violet Something. She is cheerleader popular--one of those girls you would never think of running into on a ledge six stories above the ground. Behind the ugly glasses she's pretty, almost like a china doll. Large eyes, sweet face shaped like a heart, a mouth that wants to curve into a perfect little smile. She's a girl who dates guys like Ryan Cross, baseball star, and sits with Amanda Monk and the other queen bees at lunch.

"But let's face it, we didn't come up here for the view. You're Violet, right?"

She blinks once, and I take this as a yes.

"Theodore Finch. I think we had pre-cal together last year."

She blinks again.

"I hate math, but that's not why I'm up here. No offense if that's why you are. You're probably better at math than I am, because pretty much everyone's better at math than I am, but it's okay, I'm fine with it. See, I excel at other, more important things--guitar, sex, and consistently disappointing my dad, to name a few. By the way, it's apparently true that you'll never use it in the real world. Math, I mean."

I keep talking, but I can tell I'm running out of steam. I need to take a piss, for one thing, and so my words aren't the only thing twitching. (Note to self: Before attempting to take own life, remember to take a leak.) And, two, it's starting to rain, which, in this temperature, will probably turn to sleet before it hits the ground.

"It's starting to rain," I say, as if she doesn't know this. "I guess there's an argument to be made that the rain will wash away the blood, leaving us a neater mess to clean up than otherwise. But it's the mess part that's got me thinking. I'm not a vain person, but I am human, and I don't know about you, but I don't want to look like I've been run through the wood chipper at my funeral."

She's shivering or shaking, I can't tell which, and so I slowly inch my way toward her, hoping I don't fall off before I get there, because the last thing I want to do is make a jackass out of myself in front of this girl. "I've made it clear I want cremation, but my mom doesn't believe in it." And my dad will do whatever she says so he won't upset her any more than he already has, and besides, You're far too young to think about this, you know your Grandma Finch lived to be ninety-eight, we don't need to talk about that now, Theodore, don't upset your mother.

"So it'll be an open coffin for me, which means if I jump, it ain't gonna be pretty. Besides, I kind of like my face intact like this, two eyes, one nose, one mouth, a full set of teeth, which, if I'm being honest, is one of my better features." I smile so she can see what I mean. Everything where it should be, on the outside at least.

When she doesn't say anything, I go on inching and talking. "Most of all, I feel bad for the undertaker. What a shitty job that must be anyway, but then to have to deal with an asshole like me?"

From down below, someone yells, "Violet? Is that Violet up there?"

"Oh God," she says, so low I barely hear it. "OhGodohGodohGod." The wind blows her skirt and hair, and it looks like she's going to fly away.

There is general buzzing from the ground, and I shout, "Don't try to save me! You'll only kill yourself!" Then I say, very low, just to her, "Here's what I think we should do." I'm about a foot away from her now. "I want you to throw your shoes toward the bell and then hold on to the rail, just grab right onto it, and once you've got it, lean against it and then lift your right foot up and over. Got that?"

"Okay." She nods and almost loses her balance.

"Don't nod."


"And whatever you do, don't go the wrong way and step forward instead of back. I'll count you off. On three. Okay?"

"Okay." She throws her boots in the direction of the bell, and they fall with a thud, thud onto the concrete.

"One. Two. Three."

She grips the stone and kind of props herself against it and then lifts her leg up and over so that she's sitting on the railing. She stares down at the ground and I can see that she's frozen again, and so I say, "Good. Great. Just stop looking down."

She slowly looks at me and then reaches for the floor of the bell tower with her right foot, and once she's found it, I say, "Now get that left leg back over however you can. Don't let go of the wall." By now she's shaking so hard I can hear her teeth chatter, but I watch as her left foot joins her right, and she is safe.

So now it's just me out here. I gaze down at the ground one last time, past my size-thirteen feet that won't stop growing--today I'm wearing sneakers with fluorescent laces--past the open windows of the fourth floor, the third, the second, past Amanda Monk, who is cackling from the front steps and swishing her blond hair like a pony, books over her head, trying to flirt and protect herself from the rain at the same time.

I gaze past all of this at the ground itself, which is now slick and damp, and imagine myself lying there.

I could just step off. It would be over in seconds. No more "Theodore Freak." No more hurt. No more anything.

I try to get past the unexpected interruption of saving a life and return to the business at hand. For a minute, I can feel it: the sense of peace as my mind goes quiet, like I'm already dead. I am weightless and free. Nothing and no one to fear, not even myself.

Then a voice from behind me says, "I want you to hold on to the rail, and once you've got it, lean against it and lift your right foot up and over."

Like that, I can feel the moment passing, maybe already passed, and now it seems like a stupid idea, except for picturing the look on Amanda's face as I go sailing by her. I laugh at the thought. I laugh so hard I almost fall off, and this scares me--like, really scares me--and I catch myself and Violet catches me as Amanda looks up. "Weirdo!" someone shouts. Amanda's little group snickers. She cups her big mouth and aims it skyward. "You okay, V?"

Violet leans over the rail, still holding on to my legs. "I'm okay."

The door at the top of the tower stairs cracks open and my best friend, Charlie Donahue, appears. Charlie is black. Not CW black, but black-black. He also gets laid more than anyone else I know.

He says, "They're serving pizza today," as if I wasn't standing on a ledge six stories above the ground, my arms outstretched, a girl wrapped around my knees.

"Why don't you go ahead and get it over with, freak?" Gabe Romero, better known as Roamer, better known as Dumbass, yells from below. More laughter.

Because I've got a date with your mother later, I think but don't say because, let's face it, it's lame, and also he will come up here and beat my face in and then throw me off, and this defeats the point of just doing it myself.

Instead I shout, "Thanks for saving me, Violet. I don't know what I would've done if you hadn't come along. I guess I'd be dead right now."

The last face I see below belongs to my school counselor, Mr. Embry. As he glares up at me, I think, Great. Just great.

I let Violet help me over the wall and onto the concrete. From down below, there's a smattering of applause, not for me, but for Violet, the hero. Up close like this, I can see that her skin is smooth and clear except for two freckles on her right cheek, and her eyes are a gray-green that makes me think of fall. It's the eyes that get me. They are large and arresting, as if she sees everything. As warm as they are, they are busy, no-bullshit eyes, the kind that can look right into you, which I can tell even through the glasses. She's pretty and tall, but not too tall, with long, restless legs and curvy hips, which I like on a girl. Too many high school girls are built like boys.

"I was just sitting there," she says. "On the railing. I didn't come up here to--"

"Let me ask you something. Do you think there's such a thing as a perfect day?"


"A perfect day. Start to finish. When nothing terrible or sad or ordinary happens. Do you think it's possible?"

"I don't know."

"Have you ever had one?"


"I've never had one either, but I'm looking for it."

She whispers, "Thank you, Theodore Finch." She reaches up and kisses me on the cheek, and I can smell her shampoo, which reminds me of flowers. She says into my ear, "If you ever tell anyone about this, I'll kill you." Carrying her boots, she hurries away and out of the rain, back through the door that leads to the flight of dark and rickety stairs that takes you down to one of the many too-bright and too-crowded school hallways.

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All the Bright Places 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 161 reviews.
Diana218 More than 1 year ago
I've only just finished the book about a half an hour ago, but cannot stop crying. This book os beautifully written, charming, and terribly heart-breaking. Definitely one of the more intense YA books I've ever written. If you enjoyed Eleanor and Park or Looking For Alaska, you will enjoy this book, although it stands on its own and is only really comparable  in its intensity. I seriously, seriously recommend this book.
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars Jan 6th4.5 stars     I wanted to read All the Bright Places because I am always interested in mental health books, especially ones dealing with suicide. As someone who has mental health issues, has had thoughts of suicide myself, and lost my father to suicide, it is a topic that is very important to me. I think that books like this can help people relate to someone who is depressed or thinking of suicide even if they have never had clinical depression,      In a society where everything is becoming all about instant gratification and what feels good in that moment, it is important to realistically address what happens when moods get dark and it feels like there is no way out. I think that it is important to learn how to love people that are in that situation and  even if they are not normally your friend, if you see someone hurting, talk to them, be their friend, and it may make all of the difference in the world to them. It is also crucial to look at the times where a person may go through with suicide. Blame cannot be placed, you can't ask the what ifs and you have to learn how to let their memory be honored and stay alive and heal and keep living however you can.      All the Bright Places is smart shocking realistic and messy emotional. No holds barred with finch. He was the kind of character who amazed me at his kindness and broke my heart. I loved that he could help someone else and talk them down when he himself can't quit thinking about death and how it could be his escape. But he is also a person who lived life fully. He didn't conform to expectations and tried to see the beauty in life and take risks, chances and life hard.     Our other main character is Violet. Where I can connect with Finch on some levels, and admired him where I didn't understand or that wasn't my personality, I connected with Violet in others. She is a people pleaser, she is more withdrawn, and she is hurting deep inside, and tries to keep it hidden. The healing and growth on violet was undeniable watching her learn to accept loss and still remember and love those that have left her life was inspiring.        Finch is eccentric and troubled but also with a love for life even with thoughts of and plans for suicide torment him. Their reluctant friendship and camaraderie in meeting on that water tower, and Finch talking her down and not thinking less or correcting when people thought that it was Violet who saved Finch. He is persistent in being around her and trying to bring her out of her shell. They both have a lot to teach the other.      The ending is bold and raw. I couldn't believe the route that it took but think that it is eye opening and realistic. Not everything can be a happy ending, there are aspects to mental health that can't be fixed, and there is some pain that is inescapable. But I do like the hope that it does give us. That there are other ways, there is help out there, and there are friends in places we may never have thought to look.  Bottom Line: Gritty, raw, emotional, powerful. 
KikiD870 More than 1 year ago
This book was... amazing.  For heart wrenching novels, this is right up there with The Fault in Our Stars and Love and Other Unknown Variable, two of my favorite novels of 2014.  It touches the soul, it touches the heart, and leaves you reeling.  I started it in the morning and didn't put it down again until I had finished it.  And then I sat there drained.  It was so beautiful in its own way.  I love that this book recognizes that happy ever afters don't always happen in life.  Life is messy, sad, funny, loving, and every emotion in between.  There is love and there is loss. Theo is the guy that no one really understands, including himself.  Even his two best friends seem to know him only on the most basic of levels.  His family is largely a group of people living separate lives and I frequently thought that his little sister Decca was the most together of them all.  He has had a pretty troubled past and he struggles to figure out who he is.  Violet is the, on the surface, the popular girl with the "right" friends and the "right" boyfriend.  Inside, she is a mess, struggling to survive after losing her sister, her best friend.  She doesn't know how to move on, bogged down in her grief.  The two meet in the worst possible moment, two people who are seemingly totally different.  Yet they are drawn to each other and their story is beautiful. There is so much depth to this story.  Yes, there are heart wrenchingly sad moments, but there are beautiful ones, too.  There is a ton of unexpected and witty humor, and so much sweetness from Theo that made him even more amazing.  But there is no denying that Theo's story also made me angry, as a parent.  Without giving too much away, it just angered me to see him as he was through much of the book.  If his parents had just opened their eyes and taken the time to BE parents, his story could have been so very different.  And that drove me insane. My Recommendation:  This is a beautiful read.   The story is not light, but touches on real issues with compassion.  Not every story has a perfectly happy ending, but there is always a lesson to be learned and that is the case with this incredible novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I stumbled across this book and boy I didn't prepare to be left in a puddle on the floor after experiencing it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is a living and breathing piece of art.
Clothed_in_Majesty More than 1 year ago
Tearjerker that helps you think, a few things aggravated me however. It felt like a romanticization of suicide, and is yet another book that did not practice safe sex. If you liked The Fault in Our Stars, Eleanor and Park, Looking for Alaska, or It's Kind of A Funny Story- this book is all of those mixed together. Recommend for the storyline, but be smart with what you read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it. From start to sad finish. This book is definitely worth your time. I look forward to seeing the movie version next year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Captivating, intense, raw.
BrilliantBooks More than 1 year ago
this was ..PERFECT. 
majibookshelf More than 1 year ago
All the Bright Places broke me. I managed to read it during a buddy single sitting read. I could not put the book down and by the end of it my face was a hot mess. I couldn't breathe through my nose or read through the tears. This book was heartbreaking, beautiful, breathtaking, emotional, and full of life, hope, and dreams. I went into it knowing so many people loved it, and quite frankly I now completely understand their obsessive love and how this book, that wasn't even on my radar before I received it on my doorstep, is the next big contemporary novel. It doesn't hurt that it already got picked up for a movie and is in the middle of casting. I have never read a point of view like Finch's. I daren't close my eyes for one second in fear of being left behind with his running thoughts. If I had one word to describe his chapters it would be exhilarating. It was so hard trying to catch up to him. I was fascinated and completely immersed during his chapters. Jennifer Niven made everything so damn believable, and truly captured the way writers should write about mental illnesses. Finch's character is so strange and beautiful and you can't help but fall in love with him. I know my friend and I did. As for Violet, I felt she is sometimes overshadowed by Finch in reader's eyes but I really enjoyed her chapters too. Some people said it was unnecessary to have a dual POV but I believe seeing everything and Finch through Violet's eyes is really an eye opener for the readers. Violet and Finch's story is tragically beautiful. The struggle they both go through is so real that you can't help but root for them and wish them eternal happiness. I have not fully connected with book characters as much as I did with those two for a while. All the Bright Places deserves all the praise it got. It is its own book and comparing it to other contemporaries truly doesn't do it justice. It is the story of two unlikely teens getting together and fighting their own battles while trying to pursue happiness. It isn't the cookie cutter tragic teen story, I hope it is the start for the redefining of realistic contemporary YA fiction. Teens are people and they are all unique and different. Only when we start telling each of their stories can we really understand the complexity of life and people around us. All the Bright Places taught me that and so much more. To give you an indication of how loved this book is, I read this for a book club where out of the five people, four of them gave this book the full 5 stars. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hate this book with a burning passion. Not only is it an unrealistic and frankly offensive portrayal of mental illness, but it's poorly written. Finch is written with so many different cringe-worthy personalities that it's obvious the author couldn't decide how they wanted to write their character and/or doesn't know how to consistently write a stable character. I could go on about the flaws, but I'll save your time. Overall, this book is an unrealistic and practically romanticizing mental illness.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There's no real words to describe it. This book broke my heart and somehow put it back together. I will be reading this again and again, and again.
alize phelps More than 1 year ago
I haven't finished much of the book , but so far i really enjoy reading it. Each paragraph is about a different person, either Finch or Violet, so the book has multiple points of view and i feel like thats more entertaining. Its really inspiring to keep going even when your at your worst and you feel like you cant go any longer. I very much suggest everyone to read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book changed my view of the world. More importantly helps me deal with my suicidal thoughts and from commiting suicide. This book changes my life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Okay, so coming from a Survivor of Suicide, just going to say that this book will make you cry, or at least make you feel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book of all time, ive never cried so much reading a book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had hope and it was crushed. Yet I like that about this novel. Unlike most books I've read the ending isn't happy. That's what makes me respect this book, even though I didn't like some of the ways it described mental illnesses.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If only heartbreakingly authentic, brutally honest, poignantly real books like this were on school reading lists, more kids would read and enjoy the experience. They might even read something that could save a life, their own, or someone else in trouble. I've read a lot of YA novels in my years as a bookseller, and I know the tendency to compare a book to others based solely on certain criteria. Yet this one need not be compared to others to win a much deserved audience. In single terms, it is golden.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome, in the most literal sense of the word. I cried, hard, again and again. The story is brutal and honest, and I absolutely fell in love with it. It brings to light subjects that are often left alone and it shows the layers inside suicidal people, and that they are never just a label or diagnosis. It is about two broken people, trying to find their place in the world, if there is one for them. I strongly recommend this book to everyone, not just people with interests in suicide or mental illness. It makes you think about the big questions about life and death, and it shows you what it means to live. Achingly beautiful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
when I first began reading this book, I didn't care for it. About the first 35 pages I was kinda bored and not super into it, I even bought a different book to read instead. When I finished the other book though I went back to this one and I'm so glad I did. Once you hit around page 40, this book is so incredible. I could not put this down. So many emotions are felt throughout this story. If you've read John Green's "Looking for Alaska" this is extremely similar. I love everything about this book and was in tears when I finished it. I HIGHLY recommend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A realistic insight into the mind of a teen who feels he has no way out, while taking another damaged young girl and helping her fly again. Couldn't put it down- deeply moving. If you liked The Fault In Our Stars, this book is just as powerful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a good story. I love how it shows you that even when it seems like you're at your worst moment and you can't go on, you can push through. Something I will be keeping in mind
Anonymous More than 1 year ago