Sunday, January 4, 2015

All the Bright Places has all the feels PLUS author interview PLUS giveaway!!

Theodore finch, the Freak, has climbed to the top of the school bell tower to think about suicide. Ultimately deciding jumping would be far too messy, he’s about to climb down when he notices a pretty girl a few feet away. She’s also on the edge, and appears zoned out. “Come here often? Because this is kind of my spot I and don’t remember seeing you here before.”

Not exactly poetry and flowers, but Finch’s words, and his subsequent actions, talk Violet down from the bell tower ledge. As the two work on a school project and “Wander the State,” Violet goes from resenting Finch’s presence to craving it. He’s the only one who understands, and he pushes her out of her comfort zone, making her feel more alive that she has since her sister died. But the depression that drives Finch to research methods of suicide never quite goes away, and as the days pass he becomes more and more manic and remote. Violet seems to be the only thing tethering him to life…but for how long?

This extraordinarily well written novel was so very real that realistic fiction doesn’t seem an adequate term. In alternate voices both characters tell the story, and as it built toward the foreshadowed turning point I felt like I actually knew both teens. Niven pulled me fully into Violet and Finch’s lives, showing me the complexity of the their thought processes easily and without judgement. All the Bright Places gave me insight into the helpless, hopeless feeling that many teens face when they are fighting depression, mental illness, etc. Sometimes it's easier to connect with fictional characters than it is with those around us, and it's possible that some teens will see themselves or their friends in Violet and Finch. I think this is going to be an important book to those teens, and I encourage everyone, high school through adult, to read it. 
Five Question Interview with author Jennifer Niven!
As the new year rolls in I'm adding some new features to Fun-Size Reads. One of these is slightly kooky interviews with authors. 

I love authors. I go all fangirly when meeting them though, and never manage to actually speak to them. I just grin stupidly while they sign my books. Starting these interviews gives me the opportunity to ask authors questions that, hopefully, no one else has asked. 

Jennifer Niven is the author eight books, including the Velva Jean historical fiction series, her memoir The Aqua Net Diaries, and Ada Blackjack and The Ice Master, two nonfiction titles that make me shiver just looking at the covers. All the Bright Places is her first Teen novel. 

Jennifer took a break in her busy schedule to kindly answer a few odd and random questions for Fun-Size Reads:

What author, novel, or story inspires you to write?  
My mom. She was a prolific, award-winning author, and when I was a little girl, we used to have “writing time.” While Mom sat at her grown-up desk, I sat at my little one, composing stories in crayon.  She not only encouraged my own writing from a very early age, she taught me that I could be or do anything I wanted to be or do. In August 2014, she passed away unexpectedly and suddenly, and I am trying to honor her with every word I write. I feel like that little girl again, sitting at my desk, crayons in hand, doing what I most love to do, knowing that—if not for her—I wouldn’t be doing it at all.

What is your favorite comfort food?  

Jared & Jen
What is your favorite guilty pleasure TV show? If you don’t watch TV, what genre of books do you read for pure enjoyment?  
Supernatural.  I love it so much I went to a Supernatural convention in 2013 just so I could have my picture taken with Jared Padalecki.  Sam Winchester is my fictional boyfriend.

When you were growing up, what was your favorite playground spot?
The swings. I loved going higher and higher until I felt like I was part of the wind.

What is one misconception people have about you and/or your profession? 
That being a writer is easy. I was lucky enough to grow up with a writer mom, so I saw firsthand how difficult and stressful and unpredictable the business was.  I also saw the commitment it took.  I’m grateful for that because I think so many people go into the business of writing with unrealistic expectations—not realizing that it is, in fact, a business, and that you have to be ready and willing to do it in spite of everything else.  I hear from people who ask if I only write when I’m inspired, but the answer is no.  I work harder (and longer!) than most everyone I know.

Giveaway Time!!
Finch and Violet find unexpected bright places in their state. What are your bright places? What locations have you found that make you happy? Tell me about one, and you'll be entered to win a finished cop of All the Bright Places sent to you directly from the publisher!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Niven, Jennifer. All the Bright Places. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015. 5 Stars

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in the review are mine alone. 


  1. I have a few of these, like number one will be always my bed, because most decisions I make, I make them while sitting on my bed or laying down or something. Then there is a forest between my city and the next and there in the middle of it is a very hidden natural spring that I love to visit, though I haven't been recently. Also I lived in Budapest for a few years and being on top of it, in the Buda Castle or near the Liberty Statue is both calming for me. Just sitting there, looking out to the city. And at last, sitting on top of this tunnel in front of the Chain Bridge in Budapest.

    Thank you for the giveaway and the interview is very great! :)

  2. Oh, I love this post! I've been excited for All The Bright Places for ages--even if I win, I'm still buying myself a copy. My favorite place is definitely my local park--it's so pretty! Thanks so much for offering this. Is it open to canadian residents?

    1. Hi Jessica,
      The contest is open to residents of Canada. Thanks for commenting!

    2. Thanks! I'm crossing my fingers. :-)

  3. Jessica - you've won! I'll contact you via email to get your mailing address. Thanks to you both for entering.

    The winner was selected using's list randomizer function.