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.