All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.
If you read one Young Adult book this year make it this one. It will blow your mind. I once heard an interviewer ask Stephen Fry why he went off medication and he answered “I missed all those highs”. This book is about all those highs and those lows of two teenagers and possibly half their friends who are suffering from some form of mental illness.
Theodore Finch doesn’t know who he is. he has a number of personnas – Badass Finch, Dirtbag Finch, Loser Finch and 80,s Finch among others. He has had some sort of breakdown that he refers to as the Asleep. His parents are separated, there is little communication in the home and his sportsman father has physically abused him as a child.
Finch is falling apart but in the most brilliant of fashions. His wit and imagination are superb. You will laugh, wonder and cry at the same time. Finch narrates most of the chapters.
Finch meets Violet at the top of the school bell tower. Both are standing on the ledge contemplating what if I jump? Finch talks Violet out of it although everybody thinks it is the other way round. Violet was involved in a car accident in which her older sister was killed. She can’t get over it. She wears her sisters glasses and refuses to get into a car. All her old pastimes and interests fall by the wayside. Her excuse is “I am not ready yet”. It is a cop out and she knows it. Violet narrates the rest of the chapters in response to contact with Finch.
The meeting with Finch on the bell tower is to change both their lives as is the geography assignment in which they are partners. Lots of school stuff and some good and bad adults.
It is brilliant. If you don’t read this you deserve a kicking.