Book Review #58: All the Bright Places

I’m convinced that this book was not written for teens who struggle with mental health. Is it a good book for them? …. Eh.

When I began reading All the Bright Places, my friend Erin said, “I didn’t like the way it handled its main topic.” And I agree. Many, many things about the way this book talked about and dealt with mental health rubbed me the wrong way. Finch, one of the main characters, suffers from bipolar disorder, although he doesn’t know it until close to the end. Students at school call him freak; they pick fights with him, ostracize him, bully him.

And he seems to sink further and further into himself. No one seems to want to help him—except Violet.

And that’s not the best way to look at mental health. A teen reading this may look at Finch and think, omg that’s how I feel. Maybe I should follow Finch’s lead… that’s what I think this book does wrong. There’s not exactly a romanticizing of mental health and the Big S, but both of them honestly seem to solve Finch’s problem. It was frustrating to read

So if this isn’t written for teens, who is it for?

The survivors of suicide. The survivors of mental health. The ADULTS. I am convinced that this book was written for grown people like ME who see children or teens or other adults suffer from mental health. Because my GOD I have never been so dang mad as when I read this book and NO ONE WANTED TO HELP FINCH.

His family? Oblivious! His friends? “Oh, that’s just how Finch is.” His counselor? Perfectly fine with looking the other way. Finch was a freaking walking Help sign. He was exhibiting all. The. Signs. And no one wanted to help. Even at the end, his own dang family wouldn’t admit that they had done something wrong and they were responsible.

If this book was written to infuriate me, then it hit the nail on the head. I do not think it was written to help those suffering through mental health—I think it was written to tell all of US to get our heads out of the freaking sand, stop stigmatizing MH, and offer a little bit of help.

Full stop.

Final Ratings
Overall Rating: 4 / 5
Pacing: Slow and meticulous.
Intended Audience: IMO—adult fans of John Green.
Content Warnings: Mental health, suicide, bulimia, and other forms of Self Harm.
Buy link: https://a.co/d/4Agn9aw

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