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review 2020-02-09 19:09
All the Bright Places - Jennifer Niven

This book is a really good depiction of depression and mental illness, the way a bad mood can consume someone who is already standing on the ledge. It shows that there can be a lot more going on under the surface if you stop to look and I saw some of my own darker thoughts and feelings reflected in Finch.

Finch was a really problematic character that had deep mental health issues, he should not be seen as romantic. His infatuation with Violet borders on obsession and while their moments together were often sweet, his forceful nature made me wonder how the story would have panned out, if Violet had rejected him fully.

I liked the wanderings, it is one of my favourite tropes in contemporary Young Adult books for the main couple to have a set project they're working on, often through visiting places, or letters, or clues. This book takes us around Indiana, visiting homemade roller coasters, a bookmobile park and the largest ball of paint.

I think for the ending I would have liked a glimpse into the future, which is something I always wish for and rarely get. I want to know that my characters are okay, moving on with their lives and then it would be a lot easier for me to close the final page.

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review 2019-08-09 22:48
Velva Jean Learns To Drive
Velva Jean Learns to Drive - Jennifer Niven
Velva Jean’s daddy often took off, leaving his family wondering when he’d return. Later, he’d walk back through the door, as if he’d just stepped outside for a break, and the days and the months that he’d been gone, you’d think they were just all your imagination. When their mama died, the kids were at a loss, for their daddy was out somewhere. When he got done wandering, he would discover that his wife had died and the letter that he had written to his wife, the one that she kept reading after he left, is what his children believe caused her death.
 
I enjoyed this novel as I followed along beside Velva Jean as she explored and grew-up in Sleepy Gap, North Carolina during the 1930’s. Velva Jean had dreams of singing in the Grand Ole Opry and considering her situation, I was impressed with this dream. With her mama, gone and her daddy, a no-show, Velva Jean and her sibling were taken in by her grandparents.
 
I think the grandparents did the best they could and I had to laugh when they sent two of the kids off to a bootlegger. This incident lands the kids in jail which changes them forever on many levels. The kids feel they have now crossed the fence from being “good” kids, they’ve met some new people, they seen new sights, and they’ve been arrested.
 
I liked the flow of this book. It wasn’t an intense, action-packed novel but it had a calm, even-flow pace to it. It had the pace that I would think living in the mountains would have. There was a singing competition that stirs things up as Velva Jean wants to compete, religion comes into the picture as Velva Jean started to worry about future, and it gets interesting when Velva Jean begins to mature and she runs into a fellow from her past.
 
I’m going to look into the other books in this series and I like books about the Appalachian Mountains and I enjoyed this novel.

 

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review 2019-03-27 07:42
A Title I Don't See The Connection With, A Story With Potential But Never Hold Up...
Holding Up the Universe - Jennifer Niven

Reading Holding Up the Universe, there are most parts of the book I didn't enjoy and only few I felt there is so much potential to explore but it just didn't hold it up for me. Another, I kept wondering how does this title connects with the plot or even the characters itself.

 

Libby Strout has a past she wants to forget but she is going to make a difference this year because this year she is making a come back - going back to school. Jack Masselin has a secret - one he has kept since he was six after a fall from a rooftop. When both of them meet, it wasn't some thing that hits it off too well between the two and accepted by others - a girl once dubbed as 'America's Fattest Teen' and a boy who everyone thought knew. But their past has a connection and falling in love wasn't part of it.

 

There are times I did make a comparison to All The Bright Places, not because of the theme but the way Jennifer Niven writes. Its almost similar in some aspects - every thing falls into place, some of the character's exchange of dialogue feels unreal and the ending feels rushed. Holding Up the Universe has that streak, but towards the end, there's some thing special that really brings out the book - a little hint of reality. While it does cover topics of bullying, cruelty towards teens and the same kind of angst teenagers go through, I can't help but wonder how does this title relates much to plot. Maybe I don't see it but in many ways, how does it relate to it? While for me the first act was weak, I was brought to my attention as to how the author brings out some thing personal and real to the emotions of hurt on these characters. Sadly, Jack Masselin doesn't strike me as a character that has personality, compare to Libby, who has it. Then again, the surface written plot lines kills all that.

 

Reading this gave me some mix feelings. I can't say I didn't like it but I can't say that I do like it. There are some good parts and bad in this book - for example, Libby is a brave teen that comes out from her own isolation despite how, once, she was shameful about her physical appearance. On the other, there is nothing with strong attributes that gives Libby the confidence with reasons of coming out from her own isolation that she put herself into and going back to school. There are a few others I just can't seem to accept on my own but while the last act brings out the flaws of moving forward after a past, which is a good part that reflects on reality, there are times the weight of the book that is too surface, pulls it back under the sea. Overall - its an okay read for me but for other readers, it might be otherwise.

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review 2019-02-15 17:37
About A Boy and A Girl And How Thin The Plot Is...
All the Bright Places - Jennifer Niven

We have read this before in the newspapers. We heard it from other people. Its a subject of taboo that we do not want to talk about... suicide. There are many reasons that leads to such a choice and its commonly known and read how suicides among teens do happened, of their own private reasons. I had read one such book before reading All the Bright Places, which to me... I wonder then when I first bought it few years back many readers gave good ratings. Of course, not every one gave it that high... and I am one of them.

 

I had issues with this book from the beginning. I had a few more some where in the middle. It was not until I am reading towards the end, I realize this is a story not about Theodore Finch - its about Violet Markey and how they met that one change another's life forever. How Violet copes with lost, and how Finch manage to help her with it. Still, there is some thing I did not like from the beginning. It was superficial, it wasn't realistic and it tries hard to make a realization of the main theme. I had mixed feelings as I read and towards the middle, I never care about the characters any more. I just do not know what I should really care about as I go along. It was until the 3rd act that I had guessed where its headed and how this heading feels... too thin. Every thing is just surface. There's nothing deeper to it and that gave me a reason to push forward to end my reading quick.

 

I can't say its horrible at all, as its not really that bad too. On the one hand, its pretty much straight path. Although trying to keep me guessing (even for other readers), the closure for this was bittersweet. What spoils it was the beginning and middle. I do understand what Jennifer Niven is pointing out and on her notes, its through her experience. Still, it suffers a lot in some ways I just felt what's holding my reading was if I bother to finish it and I did.

 

Overall - I felt a 3.5 out of 5 is a given. It would have been better if the characters are explored and the reasons are properly executed or laid out. What suffers it is what I said from above.

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review 2018-04-04 04:46
All The Bright Places: My Thoughts
All the Bright Places - Jennifer Niven

So All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. Stars : 4.5/5.

 

This book nearly made me cry which is why it's lacking half a star. Sometimes if the book was so good that it nearly made me cry, I don't give it the 5 stars that it deserves. I'm weird like that. 

 

This book was written very well. I was hooked from the moment i finished the first chapter. Violet was a character I could partly relate to, Finch not so much. 

 

I recommend this book to those people that are wanting a nice and easy flowing read. You have to keep in mind that this book does contain topics that involve depression. 

 

Overall: A VERY GOOD BOOK! 

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