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Book review: All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

A novel sensitive to mental health issues, finds Dr Suneeta Kochar

Set in an American high school, Theodore and Violet meet on the ledge of a school bell tower. Theodore has a background history of mental health issues and his peers assume that he may be attention seeking or considering suicide, but no one thinks about why Violet might be there.

The book goes on to explore the reasons both characters were there.

Following that incident the pair form a reluctant relationship on Violet’s part and eventually the couple end up collaborating on a school project and become friends. The couple’s relationships with their families and with each other are explored as their relationship develops.

While Theodore has mental health issues he displays empathy and understanding towards Violet as she approaches the anniversary of her sister’s death. The book explores her guilt at surviving and her memories of her sister.

While this book was an easy and enjoyable read, the conclusion was a bit obvious.

Still, it’s well-written and sensitive in its response to mental health issues, covering issues related to dying and loss whilst challenging the stigma associated with mental illness.

8/10

Dr Suneeta Kochar is a GP in Bexhill, Sussex.

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