‘All The Bright Places’ by Jennifer Niven

I haven’t read a book that describes depression better, without any prejudices, without being judgmental, without any ill informed facts or misconceptions. No book had been so understanding, consoling and comforting. It deals with suicide thoughts, living life to the fullest and that sinking feeling – that indescribable emotion that brings in the void, the emptiness, the loneliness, and wretched thought of abandon, without any reason. I am grateful to have read this book. I am immensely thankful to the author to have written this. I wish it reaches more and more readers than it already has. Let there be awareness and love without bias. Let these thoughts not be just labeled as ‘weird’ or ‘sick’ or ‘mental illness’ steeped in shame, embarrassment, and fear of alienation.

Violet Markey is devastated by her sister Eleanor’s untimely death due to a car accident, of which she’s a survivor. She feels she’s cheated Eleanor somehow by being alive. Life is not the same anymore. She’s not the same anymore. When a part of your identity ceases to exist, you too slowly cease to exist. One day she finds herself on the ledge of the school bell tower, contemplating suicide. Theodore Finch wants to take his own life- he is up there too considering suicide. But it is him who talks Violet down the ledge that day, thus saving her. He shouts ‘Thanks for saving my life, Violet’ when around other classmates, as everyone already knows what Theodore Freak is almost always up to, Violet needn’t face the same gossips and humiliation. Thus their story begins.

Finch's Rules For Wandering- Love This!!!

Violet and Theodore spend more time together as they are paired up for their school project for which they need to travel and visit places in their neighborhood and the outskirts of their town. They travel to several seemingly insignificant places in their town and leave something of their own there before returning. They click pictures, write, and jot down points about the places. I like the way they leave behind a tiny bit of their own in the place that they visit, for someone else to find, most probably another not so usual visitor, after months or years. Love the gesture, the thought behind it.

'We do not remember days, we remember moments. -Cesare Pavese. I remember running down a road on my way to a nursery of flowers. I remember her smile and her laugh when I was my best self and she looked at me like I could do no wrong and was whole. I remember how she looked at me the same way even when I wasn't.' - Theodore Finch

Theodore is different- infamous for being suicidal yet he survives every day with a single thought – ‘No, today is not a good day to die.’ People avoid him for being a weirdo, they don’t understand him. ‘I’ve always been different, but to me different is normal.’ He too suffers when his consciousness doesn’t listen to him. He’s experienced that feeling of being phased out, shut out from the world, emotionally detached, Asleep, yet still hanging in there. He runs miles in the dead of the night when his mind is bursting hazy and he can’t sleep. He plays guitar, makes up lyrics and composes songs, hoping his songs would change the world. He paints the walls when he’s Awake, puts up sticky notes on the wall with words that refuse to leave his head. And he is grateful for having met Violet- the only person who seems to speak his language, though just a few words of it anyway. There’s just so much to him that he doesn’t let others know. He’s screwed up inside, yet, he’s able to make Violet want to live.

Quoting Virginia Woolf - Wanna Read The Waves

Violet no more feels ‘none of it matters anyway- not school, not college, not friends, not exams’. She doesn’t say ‘It’s all just time fillers until we die’. She is slowly starting to get back the words that seemed to have left her. She has discontinued writing in the website which she and Eleanor had started together, but she wants to write again. She has germmagazine.com which is her new project. She is allowing herself to live without guilt, and for once in ages thinking of her life as a gift than a punishment. While Violet is inspired to start anew, encouraged to set foot out into the world, and live beyond the despair that eye can see, Theodore is going further into the abyss. Oblivion is engulfing him to the point of suffocation. "I am disappearing. Maybe I'm already gone. I am in pieces. The cadence of suffering has begun."


Theodore goes missing, leaving behind a few messages for Violet, some facebook status updates, quotations from The Waves by Virginia Woolf and a roadmap. The journey Violet takes on her own to follow his footprints, the paths he's chartered, to find him, are my favorite part of the book. This book broke my heart but mended it too, with the cracks and dents left unattended for light to enter....

My rating: 5/5 stars


  1. Easily one of my top three favorite books, along with both by Jandy Nelson. Everything about this book is plain brilliant, but the portrayal of Theodore Finch is SO well written. An easy 5/5 from me as well.


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Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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