Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
Whenever I see that everyone loves a book, I get this kind of sick feeling in my stomach. Hey, the book sounds awesome, amazing, and everyone loves it, but what if I don’t? What if I end up feeling like I’ve missed something completely obvious and now I’m going to have to live in black sheep land and hang my head in shame?!
But I was drawn to this book – it sounded good, it had been on my wishlist before the glowing reviews started coming out, and hey, lots of people whose opinions I trust were reading it. Maybe it would blow me away, be amazing and fantastic and an immediate favourite.
While reading it however, I was really torn. There were parts that I loved, and I think Niven did especially well in building two very well rounded characters, and tackling a lot of very difficult issues with sensitivity and some pretty gorgeous writing. Finch is easily one of my favourite male teen characters that I’ve read in a while – he’s kooky and funny, creative and obviously very smart, and although he’s obviously struggling with some very difficult issues, and is called a freak by many of his peers, he keeps a sense of himself and isn’t afraid to be seen as different or unusual.
On the other hand, Violet wasn’t really the most outstanding female character for me – I felt like some personality was missing, and therefore I struggled with why Finch and Violet actually ended up together in a romantic relationship – I could see Violet’s attraction to Finch, but not why Finch develops such a fascination with Violet.
However, where my click with Violet was missing, Niven definitely succeeded in drawing me into their story, and getting into some pretty intense issues with a gentle hand. There are so many themes in the story that it really had me stop and think about how I personally would have dealt with some of the situations that Violet and Finch find themselves in, and how people can make judgements without really knowing a person, or what they are going through. And it’s not all heavy themes and sad times – there are some wonderful parts that touch on acceptance, moving forward through difficult times, and finding out who you really are that make this such a balanced, thoughtful book.
Although I didn’t fall madly in love and have my heart smashed to a million pieces (maintaining my titanium heart reputation), I can completely understand why this book has been so impactful and emotional for so many people.