All the Bright Places
Falling in love with characters who have emotional issues can be frightening; writing about them can be frightening. And, in a way, it almost feels taboo. We all want to read about characters who are perfect in every way, and if you're a fan of the Young Adult genre then you probably wish Park was your first and only love.
Jennifer Niven helped me understand depression in a way I never have before, and All the Bright Places has created an aching hole in my heart where this story will continue to stay. I can only describe Niven's character, Finch, in a color and a shape. He's like a bright yellow circle. That's what I see when I think of him; I see the World's Biggest Ball of Paint. He is "all the colors in one, at full brightness" even when he is not, and there were so many times I wanted to hold his face and tell him he is loved, because being told you are loved is so magical. I appreciated the realness of this story, and I appreciated how Niven did not shy away from an issue that should be written more about.
I had to keep a stack of Post-it notes beside me while reading about Finch and Violet, because there were so many sentences I needed to remind myself of. And we all know how much I love words.
"'Congratulations.' But it's too late. He's already put it out there and now my brain has grabbed onto 'Just be careful' and won't let go. I try to tell it he might have meant 'Just be careful when you have sex. Use a condom,' but instead, because, you know, it's a brain, and therefore has - is - a mind of its own, it starts thinking of every way in which Violet Markey might break my heart."
I understood this idea before I ever read this sentence since I'm the queen of overthinking. Everything bad that can happen goes through my mind before anything good ever does, and I'm always thinking of the worst possible outcome. And there are no words anyone can take back after they have said them, and sometimes they take up all the room in your head until you're overflowing with horrible ideas. I find it easier to deal with my thoughts when I think "they didn't call me because they are busy" instead of "they didn't call me because they hate me."
"I can feel the apology in his fingers."
"Sometimes, Ultraviolet, things feel true to us even if they're not."
I love when I read words grouped together so perfectly, and there are so many times when I have apologized through a hug or a look without actually saying the words, because sometimes the words just aren't enough. Sometimes you need to touch the person you're apologizing to. And there have been many times that I've believed my feelings were valid when they were really void.
"I suddenly feel jealous of all the years she had before meeting me."
I don't know if this sentence makes sense unless you've met someone someone who has already spent a piece of their life without you. I feel this way with John sometimes, and it's usually when I find pictures of him when he was younger. I start to feel jealous of all the people who watched him grow up and all the parents who picked him up from school and the friends who got to trick-or-treat with him and the girls who had crushes on him. And I'm so grateful to all these people for helping him be the boy I met over a year ago.
Niven gave me so many small, magical moments that I couldn't help but talk about. She created characters who felt real, and she helped me feel like I'm not the only person in the world. She helped me understand mental illness, and she let me meet other people who love words as much as I do.
And, more than anything else, she reminded me of my bright places.