All the Bright Places

All the Bright PlacesAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

You have been in every way all that anyone could be.… If anybody could have saved me it would have been you.

All the Bright Places is about two broken teenagers- Violet and Finch- who met in one of the most unusual ways- at the top of the bell tower where Finch had to talk Violet off a ledge and save her. From then, Violet becomes Finch’s reason to stay Awake and not fall into the Asleep, a metaphor for his depressive episodes. Finch also helps Violet come to terms with her sister’s death. This book is about two people who wants and needs to be saved.

In many ways, I see this book as similar in other young adult contemporary books that I have read- two broken teenagers, adventure and a rollercoaster of emotion. Violet is a girl who belongs to the “popular” crowd but doesn’t really feel like herself around her peers. This kind of girl is actually repetitive for several young adult books. On the other hand, Finch is an “outsider” who doesn’t feel like he belong with anybody at all. Again, a typical boy in a young adult book. Violet and Finch also gets to go on an adventure for a school project. Another typical element. What’s different here is how mental disorders are depicted. What I find different here is how mental disorders are depicted. I don’t think I’ve ever understand mental health the way I did in this book. Another thing that’s different for me is that I desperately longed for a happy ending. In these kinds of books, I accept that the story may end tragically from the beginning or middle of book to save myself from more pain. In this book, I couldn’t do it. I let myself believe that this story may have a  happy ending after all.

In this end, this book left me heartbroken. It is a good read for it opens your eyes of the reality of some other peoples’ lives. Yes, Finch is a fictional character but there is someone out there who might be fighting to stay Awake just as Finch does. Maybe there is someone out there who is desperately searching for something to live for. Maybe that’s why the story ended the way it did. It’s not telling us that there’s nothing to be done. It’s telling us that we need to act for something to be done. It makes us think about all the ways things could have turn out differently. So maybe, in our real lives, we can be more attentive. We can seek more help. We can try harder not to give up on other people. Some say that this book does not focus on hope. And yes, I do agree. This book focuses on regrets. And for some, this is  a better fuel to act.




Golden by Jessi Kirby

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

How many people have gotten older and forgotten about the things they hoped for and dreamed about when they were young? Or given up without ever taking a chance, or settled in life because it’s easier, or they’re scared, or whatever other excuses? How many people need a reminder of who they once were?

Parker Frost will soon graduate high school and she would graduate without every doing anything risky. Valedictorian of her class and up for a scholarship from the Cruz-Farnetti scholarship, she’s supposed to spend her remaining days as senior composing the speech that will make her win the the scholarship – ticket to the standford, premed and the life she thought she wanted.

But then, she finds Julianna Farnetti’s journal. Shane Cruz and Julianna Farnetti is the golden couple… until a stormy night where they plunged into a river…and gone forever without even a body to bury. After then, their families opened a scholarship program to help teenagers with their future, a life Shane and Julianna weren’t given a chance to.

But Julianna’s journal somehow tells a different kind of story than being the ‘golden’ couple. With the secret Julianna keeps before the accident, Parker knows there’s more to the story. With that, she was ready to do a risky thing and set out to an adventure with her best friend, Kat, and her long time crush, Trevor.

Golden, for me, is one of those typical coming of age story. Typical goody-two-shoes girl but then fate comes along and she starts to “live her life” and have fun. This book extremely reminded me of John Green’s Paper Towns – finding clues and then a road trip and a certain mystery. The romance is also typica. Parker always had  feelings for Trevor but never really acted upon it until her “risky” adventures.

Yes, the book is typical but it is still very enjoyable. I happen to love these kinds of books in spite of me expecting something more. I still found myself immersed into the book and involved with the characters. The book even got me thinking about my life choices and what I want to do with my “one wind and precious life”. And I guess that’s one of the things I like about a book- it makes you feel and it makes you think. The characters are very relatable. I think most of us were in that point when we have the rest of our life ahead of us and we are facing a decision that may change it forever. We are on that point where we dread that maybe some time in the future, we may look back at this moment and feel regrets and not gratitude. That’s exactly what Parker is going through.

Overall, I think it’s a good read. It’s not a “scream while reading” and “put-down-the-book-and cry” kind of a good book but a calming feeling kind of book.

Hate List

Hate List

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

And then I’d spend about an hour, my room darkening around me, wondering what the hell happened to make me unsure of who I even was.

Did you ever have a fear that the people you love aren’t what they seem? That there are other sides of them that are not the person smiling in front of you, playing with your hair and making you laugh? That they can do horrible things that you can’t imagine they could? For Valerie Leftman, this became a reality. Her boyfriend Nick whom she loved so deeply just showed up at school one day and started killing people – targeting people who were on their hate list. Several months after the incident, Valerie must come back to school and face the people who may or may not think she’s guilty as well. And every day was a struggle.

I’ve read books about suicide and consequences of bullying before but never did a book made me cry like this. I basically cried after every page… real tears. It’s because Valerie is not perfect. Some are right – she may not have pulled the trigger but she has a part in the shooting. But the best part is she knows that. And she’s trying her best to come to terms with it.

This book is a very emotional one. It stirred a lot of emotion inside of me. I felt anger and grief and confusion. But most of all, it made me evaluate my life.

Jennifer Brown made brilliant characters in this one. There are some times when I’m annoyed with Valerie but I guess that’s one reason I liked the main character. As I’ve mentioned, she’s not perfect. But the people around her are crap. Her family sucks. Her old friends suck. Her life really sucks. And I guess that’s what the book really wants- to show a person’s struggle. We are all fighting battles everyday- battles against ourselves, the people around us and our environment. But some got it worse than the others. Some people won’t notice but the worst part is someone does and takes advantage of that weakness they see in you.

And this book really sends a message about the people who have done bad things. I am not justifying any bad thing ever done but like Nick, maybe there’s more to bad people than the bad things they have ever done.

This book also sends a message about hate. And that’s why I’m doubting the five stars I gave this book. Honestly, I’m still thinking about it. I expected the ending to be different. I expected Jennifer Brown to establish what hate does to people. I expected this book to somehow teach the lesson further than what it did.

But I guess Jennifer Brown chose to send a message of hope.

I may have second thoughts about the five stars but this book is great. The stars aren’t the one this book made me doubt. Hours ago, I had a favorite book. Now this book and On the Jellicoe Road is fighting for the spot.

Overall, if you wish to read a book to really feels something – this book is a great choice!