Let’s continue with the second one of my unforgettable Young Adult books: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.
I am very grateful I followed my instinct to buy this book in the bookshop I worked in after repeated inquiries from some very eager teen readers. At first, we didn’t carry it and I couldn’t help but order it in.I am glad I did.
When I first read this I can’t believe it is Jennifer Niven’s debut novel. The voices of Violet and Finch are so real, their dual narratives and the dialogs fit so perfectly, and the pace of the book is just so right that you can’t help turning pages after pages to find out what happened next to the characters you invest more and more in.
The unforgettable passages are, of course, almost infinite in this incredible book, but here I want to share one with you in particular :
We eat one-handed and read our way through the stack, and then we start reading aloud from Dr. Seuss–Oh, the Places You’ll Go! We alternate stanzas, first Finch, then me, Finch, then me.
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
At some point, Finch gets to his feet and starts acting it out. He doesn’t need the book because he knows the words by heart, and I forget to read because it’s more fun watching him, even when the words and his voice turns serious as he recites lines about dark places and useless places and waiting places, where people don’t do anything but wait.
Then his voice turns light again and he is singing the words.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.
He pulls me to my feet.
With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
The two of us are doing our own version of flip-fapping, which is a kind of leaping over things–the beanbags, the rug, the other books. We sing the last lines together–your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!--and end in a heap on the floor, candlelight dancing across us, laughing like we’ve lost our minds.