All The Bright Places: The Book That Picked Me

A few weeks ago I received a text from my former teaching partner asking me to call her after school. I’m the type of person in situations like these that expects the worst. All day I played different scenarios through in my head of what awful thing must have happened for me to need to call her as soon as school got out.

It turns out, that my mind couldn’t come up with something as awful as what had happened. I learned in that phone call that a former student of mine was cyber-bullied severely, which people believe led to her taking her own life.

She was a freshman in high school.

She was 14.

On Friday, I received a package from Random House that contained the book All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. I am lucky enough to at times receive advanced copies of books. This was the third time Random House send me this book. I’m not sure if it is some sort of mailing issue, or what, but I got the point: I should probably read this book.


The book starts with two teenage students, a boy and a girl, on the top of the ledge of the school bell tower. They are both considering ending things.

I’m only about 175 pages into this 390 page book. I’m not sure how things are going to turn out for Violet and Finch. What I do know is that this is the book that I needed to read. This book found me. This book somehow knew that I needed to read it.

Reading All The Bright Places doesn’t dull the pain of losing a student, but for 175 pages it has helped me think about suicide in ways that I haven’t thought about it before. It has helped me remember times when Lauryn sat in my class with a giant smile on her face.

I don’t read a lot of young adult fiction. Maybe one or two books a year. I’m not sure that I’ve ever written about a young adult book on my blog, but I can’t stop feeling like I need to do everything in my power to help this book find its way into the hands of other readers. This book needs to find its way into the hands of kids that are hurting, struggling, lost.

I’m sure that your to-read pile is as large as mine, and putting another book on top of it might seem a little overwhelming, but I hope you consider adding All The Bright Places to the stack. I can’t help but think that a reader in your life might need to read this book as much as I did.


4 thoughts on “All The Bright Places: The Book That Picked Me

  1. Your post comes at just the right moment, as this book came to you at just the right time. A note from my substitute teacher informed me of some mean notes that were given to one of my students anonymously. A precursor to the cyber-bullying that led your former student to take her life. I had been contemplating how best to address this issue, when I turned to my emails and found your post. I will now take two actions. The first is to address the situation that occurred in my class while I was out. The second is to add this book to my daunting TBR pile, and move this title to the top of it. The emotional development and safety of our students is such a critical concern, and I appreciate your thoughtful entry and the recommendation you’ve made.


  2. I am so sorry for your loss. The death of a student hurts deeply and especially one by suicide. Suicide always makes us think What if…
    I have not heard of this book yet. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Colby, you totally made me tear up. These situations are so tragic, and when it hits close to home, we feel it in a way we can’t otherwise. I know from personal experience what this feels like. I’m glad this book “found” you (through angelic nudging, I think) and I hope it makes its way into the right hands, as you said ((hugs))


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