All The Bright Places - Interview & Review

Photo by Justine Machin

 

Review of 'All The Bright Places' & Interview with Jennifer Niven. 

Part One.

So here it is lovelies... My very first ‘official’ post. I cannot begin to tell you all how excited I am. (And a tad nervous.) I’ve had so many lovely messages and excited tweets that I’m afraid of disappointing you all... But here’s hoping you enjoy this post as much as I've enjoyed piecing it together! 
It's a little longer than I had originally planned so I've decided to split it into two posts. It's been a long time coming... Go make yourself a brew, curl up and enjoy the read! Let me know what you think! Happy weekend all!


Adriana Gabrielle

 

 

 Warning: This post contains spoilers and also sensitive content ie. Mental Health/Suicide.
My love affair with ‘All The Bright Places’ started several months ago when I came across an article in Look magazine. 
Author Jennifer Niven was talking about her very first young adult novel. For those who have no idea what this novel is about, the book blurb reads something along the lines of this...
'The story of a girl who learns to live from a boy who wants to die.'

'Theodore Finch wants to take his own life. He's broken and no one can fix it. Violet Markey is devastated by her sister's death.' They meet by chance on the ledge of the high school bell tower and so their story begins... Two very different worlds, two very different individuals, forever changed. 
Something about the synopsis struck a chord with me and needless to say I ended up making a beeline for Waterstones that very weekend! As soon as I was curled up back on the comfort of my sofa, I began reading. Sure I had half expected to like ATBP but what I hadn't expected was for it to blow me away quite like it did. Now I should tell you at this point, if you haven't yet read my 'about me'... I am a notorious Drama Queen. (My friends will be nodding frantically in agreement at this sentence!) So you could be forgiven for assuming that I am just being melodramatic. Trust me when I say I am not. It really is that good. In fact if I'd had a pound for every comment on Twitter or Facebook, raving about ATBP and how it has changed their perceptions and/or their lives... I'd be very rich by now! 
From the very first opening line, 'Is today a good day to die?' it grabs you. The expression 'page turner' couldn't be better suited to a novel. The majority of the story is spent following Finch and Violet as they go about their 'wanderings', finding new 'Bright Places' as part of a school project. You can almost feel the sunshine as they trek up Hoosier Hill, the highest natural point in the state of Indiana, 1,257 feet above sea level. Then as we read on, the story takes a darker turn when Finch disappears... In a nutshell I suppose you could call ATBP a love story. But it is indeed so much more than that. I devoured it in one sitting and ended staying up all hours just so I could see how it would end. 
Jennifer succeeds where so many writers before her have failed. She has it spot on with her 'show not tell' technique so that you feel completely enveloped by Finch and Violet's world.
I defy you not to cry. I couldn't stop and books rarely have this effect on me. In fact I can count on one hand those that have achieved this feat. One of which is 'Ways To Live Forever' by Sally Nicholls. (Another must read if you haven't tried it!) 
No matter what your views are of this novel, no one can fault Jennifer for the positive impact it's having on the younger generation and indeed on all generations. Don't be fooled by the 'Young Adult' label. This is one for everyone!
Some have criticized Jennifer for taking an altogether difficult subject and turning it into a jokey, cheerful, lighthearted novel but I beg to differ. ATBP is neither jokey nor lighthearted. It has been written beautifully and despite opinions to the contrary, a person suffering from Mental Health illness doesn't necessarily always walk around with a permanent black cloud above their head!
I take my hat off to Jennifer for bravely taking the novel in the direction that ultimately sees Finch meet his unfortunate end. Why? Because suicide happens every day. Sometimes we need the shock factor of statistics and books like Jennifer's in order to want to make change. Because unfortunately suicide IS a harsh reality. It is an awful fact that EVERY forty seconds someone dies this way. Unfortunately stigma is also commonplace in society. So if the only outcome after reading ATBP is that people start talking more about Mental Health then it's a job well done.
Love or loathe it, this is one story that will stay with you long after you turn the final page. 




The Author...

 

Jennifer herself is so down to earth and lovely. When I initially approached her to ask if I could do the interview that follows this post, she was so enthusiastic it was infectious! Even bending over backwards to get her answers to me right before she was due to commence a hectic world book tour. If she wasn't on my list of favourite authors before ATBP, she most definitely is now! 
She has written four novels for adults - American Blonde, Becoming Clementine, Velva Jean Learns to Fly and Velva Jean Learns to Drive. She has also written three non-fiction books - The Ice Master, Ada Blackjack and The Aqua Net Diaries. The last is a memoir of her own high school experiences. She grew up in Indiana but now lives in LA.
Several years ago Jennifer lost someone very close to her through suicide. It was in fact she who discovered him. As you can imagine, it's not an experience that anyone would want to go through let alone talk about. But as Jennifer herself admits, talking is important. Without it we can't help each other.


The Interview!

 




The lovely Jennifer Niven. I think her book collection could rival mine!






I've split the content into two sections. The first includes questions and answers that I think all of you All The Bright Places fans will love. The second section (which will follow in a future post) may interest any aspiring writers! 

GGD: What was your aim with this particular novel? What do you want the readers to take away from it?

JN: I hope it inspires readers to look deeper at the people and places around them, to find their own bright places. And I hope it inspires discussions about teen mental health. I want readers to know that they aren't alone, that help is out there, that it gets better, that high school isn't forever, and that life is long and vast and full of possibility.  

GGD: If there's one thing I've taken away from reading this book, it's that life and those around us are precious! With that in mind, name two things on your 'bucket list'? 

JN: I've always wanted to be a Bond girl, one of the badass ones, but -tragically- I might be a little too old now! In lieu of that, I want to go to Romania and write some sort of spine-tingling, bone-chilling darkly gothic story based on the experience. And I'd like to have a cameo in the movie version of 'All The Bright Places.'

GGD: Is Violet based on anyone? Or do you see any of yourself in her?

JN: Like Violet, I've known my share of loss. Also, I hated my small Indiana town when I was living in it, and didn't feel as if I truly fit in, and sometimes I kept my feelings too bottled up because I was always trying to be perfect. Also, of course, like Violet I knew and loved a boy like Finch.

GGD: If you could give one piece of advice to Finch or Violet, what would it be?

JN: I would say to Finch, 'Stay. Talk about it. Reach out to Violet and to Embryo and your sister. Let them help you. Don't go, because the thing about death is that you can never undo it once it's done.'
 
GGD: I don't think you could have ended the novel more fittingly given the build up with Finch's Mental Health and the lack of support from those around him. Even his own mother was oblivious. We've both known and sadly lost a Finch. What are your thoughts on afterlife? Where do you think Finch went?

JN: I think he found that other world, just as Violet said. It’s interesting to me to talk about the book now and read from it now because I’m grieving for my mom, who died a few months ago. Violet and Finch have actually helped me as I find my way through this latest—and most significant—loss. My mom, like Finch, was amazingly alive. She burned beautifully and brightly, and then she died, but not really, because someone like her cannot die. I feel like they must be somewhere—Finch, my mom, all the loved ones I’ve known and lost—still burning brightly in some other world. 


GGD: What's next in the pipeline? I think we're all itching for an All The Bright Places sequel... Of where Violet went next... 

JN: I’m working on my next YA novel. This one is about a boy who can’t recognize faces and a very visible girl who feels invisible. So no Violet sequel. Not yet at least…


GGD: ATBP has had a huge impact on me. Which book has had the most impact on you? Whether that be as a writer or just as an individual. 

JN: Maybe 'In Cold Blood.' I love that book so much it makes me crazy. I wish I’d written it, but I’m glad Truman Capote wrote it because it inspires me. The way he’s woven himself into the story, the economical yet powerful storytelling, the haunting story itself, which is at once so horrific and so human. The other book which has had the most impact on me is To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout, Jem, and Atticus are three of my favorite literary characters, and the writing—wry and wise—doesn’t get any better.


GGD: Who is the person that most influenced ATBP...

JN: My ex-boyfriend and also my fiancé, who, when I first told him what I was thinking of writing about, said to me: 'You have to write this story.'

GGD: Are you involved in the screenplay for ATBP? When will it be released?  

I’m going to be consulting on the script, which I’m excited about! As for when it will be out, most likely 2017.

GGD: I was surprised to read that you're related to Jesse James? Tell us something else about you that would surprise us. 

JN: I’m the twenty-second great-granddaughter of Geoffrey Chaucer. Also, I know the words to every ABBA song, I love One Direction, and I’m a huge Supernatural fangirl.


GGD: You're stranded on a desert island. You've got three items. What are they?  

JN: My fiancĂ© and three cats (one of my cats is quite small so I’m thinking I can sneak her past the three-item limit).


GGD: You say when asked that choosing your favourite of all the books you've written is like picking a favourite child or cat! Desert island scenerio again. One book allowed. Which do you recommend we take? 

JN: Either 'All the Bright Places' or 'The Ice Master' because it will give you some handy survival tips.

GGD: You're going on a road trip with three famous people. Who are you taking and where will you go? 

JN: It’s a tie. I’d love to take a trip with Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, and Misha Collins from Supernatural—in Dean’s Impala, of course. As for where we would go, I’d like to see the middle of the country—the Dakotas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska. Jesse James country. I’d also love to take a road trip across Sweden with Frida, Benny, and Bjorn from ABBA (Agnetha too, if I’m allowed a fourth famous person). I would ask them to sing for me the entire way.


To be continued...




Thankyou from the bottom of my heart to the gorgeous (inside & out) Jennifer Niven! This interview - my very first with an author - is an absolute dream come true. In the words of Finch... 'You are all the colours in one at full brightness!' 
Also huge thanks must go to Olivia for helping fix all the technical glitches that indeed delayed this post and to Adriana Gabrielle for the gorgeous photo! Big hugs to you both! 

So, there you have it! My very first post as GirlGoneDreamer. I hope you enjoyed it. Please do feel free to stop by for a chat. Lastly, I hope (if you haven't yet) that you get the chance to read All The Bright Places for yourselves! Enjoy! xx 





Winners!

 

If you missed this competition, why not go check out my Twitter page and next time it might be you winning a prize!?
Thankyou to all who entered. I really do wish I was rich enough to send each and every one of you a copy! 
The two winners are... Matt Richards & Sarah Sleath. Congrats! Hope you both enjoy!


Relevant links:

Germ Magazine www.germmagazine.com

Eleanor and Violet (Yes this is the real site just like in the novel!) www.eleanorandviolet.com


Twitter and Instagram handles @jenniferniven

 



8 comments :

  1. I absolutely LOVED All The Bright Places. Finch and Violet are two characters that will stay with me for a long, long time, simply because JN's writing made me feel like I was right there with them. And that was spectacular. I laughed and ugly cried and sobbed and just completely adored this book!

    Great job, Justine <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you loved it too! It's an incredible novel. Jennifer ought to be very proud! Thankyou for your lovely comment! Have a fabulous weekend xxxx

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  2. Lovely blog post and interview! My wife and I read All the Bright Places in a week, and then both subsequently, but separately, cried uncontrollably. It's such a beautiful, affecting, wholehearted story. With characters we can all relate to in so many different ways.

    In case you're interested, we just interviewed Jennifer on our podcast, Joy Sandwich. It was so fun and wonderful! Like you said, Jennifer is gorgeous inside and out. Hope you can check it out: http://www.joysandwich.com/episodes/pasadena-loves-ya-jennifer-niven :D

    Cheers!
    - Non, co-host/creator of the Joy Sandwich podcast

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such a lovely comment! ATBP really is all the words you described! I shall definitely check out your podcast! Thankyou for sharing this with me xx

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    2. Thanks! And thanks for checking out the podcast! :D Lovely day to you!

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  3. I haven't actually read it yet, but now that you've written about it like this, I am going to have to go and get it on my Kindle! Very excited to read it now :)

    Love, Amie <3

    thecurvaceousvegan.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Amie! Thank you for your lovely comment. Hope you do get to read it. Let me know what you think! Xxx

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  4. It absolutely was a new summery night time, and the warmth had been nicely intensive. Wandering via Aged San Juan's glowing blue cobblestone avenues in conjunction, taking in the from the stately aged houses close to people, the future spouse along with My spouse and i sensed such as we had set foot into a different era. In several avenues, specially the elderly people, we all sensed as if we all had been in The world in the time your conquistadors, though upon other folks, your French colonial has a bearing on had been unique, reminding people regarding New Orleans. Bright and pleasant

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