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All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All-the-Bright-Places-jkt“The thing great thing about this life of ours is that you can be somebody different to everybody.”

All the Bright Places has been all over my GoodReads feed, and once I finished it (in a day), I knew why.  This book has all the hallmarks of great YA fiction–quirky characters,  teenage struggles, forays into love–all while taking on tough issues like suicide, domestic violence, mental illness, sudden death, and bullying.

“Sometimes there’s beauty in the tough words–it’s all in how you read them.”

What I loved best about this book was the way it surprised me.  While many YA books conclude happily, Jennifer Niven didn’t shy away from the brutal truth that is reality.  Her writing sang with beautiful prose, while her characters were well developed and the plot remained suspenseful yet layered.  I knew as soon as I finished reading that this would become a student favorite immediately, and sure enough, four kids have read it this week.

“The thing I realize is, it’s not what you take, it’s what you give.”

There is much to learn from All the Bright Places, about empathy and understanding and especially the reality of mental illness, depression, and suicide in this country.  In addition to its plot, the writing acts as its own teacher of craft.  Add this book to your to-read shelf, your classroom library’s shelves, and your to-booktalk list, and get ready to weep.

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