Author: Jennifer Niven
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Check this book out on Goodreads.
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her 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, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. 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. (Source: Goodreads)
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, regular plans his own death, but always becomes Awake before he does anything to really hurt himself. Violet Markey is waiting for the future, when she can escape the world she’s living in now that her sister is dead. Finch finds Violet on the ledge of the bell tower one day, and he saves her, or maybe they save each other. They start to work on a school assignment together, wandering Indiana, and they learn to live. But Finch begins to shrink and fade, and Violet’s afraid they won’t be able to save each other again.
THIS BOOK. This book ripped me to pieces, drove to to tears, made my heart swell, burst, break, shatter, but it held me tight through it all, gave me comfort, and reminded me who I am, what I’ve experienced, and what I can do and be in the future. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about mental health, depression, bipolar, suicide, anything, that’s affected me so deeply. This book hit me so hard I needed time to compose myself to even write the name down. This is a book I will love and treasure for a lifetime for what it is and what it has made me feel, the good and the bad.
I loved the characters in this book. Loved them to pieces. Honestly. Finch is this sort of violently swaying man. He’s lost because no one else will accept him for who he is. His family doesn’t acknowledge his mental health and so he is never able to either. But he’s also so romantic and sweet and cares for Violet so wholly you can’t help but swoon and weep over his every move. Violet is lost and scared, and I found this very real. She’s reeling from a family death, and no one wants to let her stay and not move on, while the rest of the world moves on. I really related to her and I kind of scared me how much I felt for her, because it was like looking at high school me reeling from the death of my cousin. Floundering after so long, still feeling the sting of it now. These characters are real, they live and breath with you and you carry them on after the book ends.
Above everything else the content of this book is so very, very important. This book deals with the stigma of mental health and the way many are left behind and ignored because we have such a stigma against mental health. People, like Finch, go untreated because we refuse to acknowledge the reality of mental health and just how real mental illness and disorders are. This book tackles this subject to well it really shook me. A few years ago someone in my life committed suicide, after years of battling undiagnosed mental illness. The tragedy of his suicide was only compounded by many people’s refusal to acknowledge what he’d been feeling and living with up until that point. This book speaks so well to this it had me reliving the heartbreak of my own “survival.” Niven also provides excellent resources about getting help and educating yourself about mental health, which is excellent and means a lot to me. Honestly this book has made me really appreciate Jennifer Niven just as a human being for taking on this subject with such respect and honesty.
I don’t think I can say much more, writing this review has been pretty emotional for me overall. Really to sum this all up I will say: read this book, educate yourself about mental health, and fight the stigma.