Violet and Theodore meet on the roof of their high school’s bell tower as each contemplate suicide. As they sort of rescue each other and come down the stairs and back to the reality of high school, Theodore (aka: Finch) won’t let Violet go. In an effort to get to know her he befriends her secretly in a one-on-one Facebook relationship and publicly, as declaring her a partner for a school project.
Through the daily tasks of teenagers trying to please parents and trying to uphold school ideals, Violet and Finch each struggle with their own thoughts and the reasons why they were on the bell tower in the first place. For Violet, it’s a broken heart after surviving a car accident which killed her older sister. For Finch, it’s balancing his awake moment and his “asleep” moments. Violet tries to get past the victim status known for “extenuating circumstances” and even hit upon that in life you don’t always get answers, sometimes bad things happen, sometimes good things happen, and sometimes life just happens
As predicted these two from opposite social circles soon find things in common and once paired on a school project, they open up to one another. A similar guy-girl differences and conversational banter a ‘la The Geography of You and Me and The Fault in Our Stars, the teen YA romantic crowd will enjoy. As they discover significant locations around town they discover that life has little moments of “bright places” and they find small moments of happiness with one another. Even at the end, there’s a sort of farewell scavenger hunt for the last of the assignment. It provides a romantic closure similar as The Fault in Our Stars.
Similarly to real life, those that struggle with depression often lose the battle. This is the case for this story as well as one of our friends dies, but the book should not be avoided due to that plot. In fact, it should be read for the beautifully written friendship that emerges and as a reminder to find the bright places in each of our lives.
It also covers the anger, guilt, and selfishness felt by many left behind a suicide. How people get to the point of contemplating suicide and how people can help one another. These things and life can leave you forever changed.
Watch an interview with Jennifer Niven.