The story is about a girl learning to live from a boy who intends to die.
Where do I start? For all the reviewers who say this book is a rip-off of The Fault In Our Stars, I can understand the sentiment, but I disagree. It's a book about teenagers dealing with death and finding each other in the midst of their pain. That is where the similarities end to me. The two main characters are intelligent teenagers in the information age, so they can Google quotes and full passages of books. They are not pretentious SAT-vocab-using teenagers. These characters were so much more relatable to me than Hazel and Augustus.
Violet is recovering from the death of her sister, a death she blames herself for since she directed her to the bridge where the accident occurred. She gets out of doing most school work due to the "extenuating circumstances". She appears fragile and is not expected to participate in life until we meet her. Her parents are just now trying to get her to begin to participate again. She is doing so unwillingly until she meets Theodore Finch.
Finch is different, but he doesn't know why. He used to be friends with the bullies, but as you grow up and the differences begin to separate you from the pack, they no longer can relate to him, and what is different must also be wrong. They call him a freak and he lives up to the name. Constantly trying on new identities to see which one fits, Finch focuses on death (suicide in particular) as a means to control his day to day living situation. While Violet's parents are involed (but trying to let her live her own life), Finch's parents were horrible people. He took the brunt of the abuse from his father growing up, and yet still can't get over the fact that his father left his family to create a new one. His mom has shut down and notices nothing around her while his older sister is his parental proxy at school. His younger sister is largely ignored and trying to make sense of the world where it seems like only bad things occur.
These two characters meet at a pivotal moment in their lives. Theo attaches himself to Violet and she can't shake him, despite all her efforts. He knows all too well how she is feeling, and takes responsibility of her rejoining the living. It gets to the point where finally Violet doesn't want to shake him. And then, maybe she starts to have real feelings for him. They begin to "wander" their state together, exploring the interesting and the unusual.
I kept hoping for a happily ever after, where he saves her and she saves him right back, but real life isn't always that neat and pretty. Depression is common in teens, and so many times it is chocked up to hormones and high school. I think the author does a good job in representing the different teenagers found in school, and put even the secondary characters to good use in the story. This is not a book that you can read and remain dry-eyed. It is an important story to tell, and it is geared towards the audience that most needs it.