All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
(Listening Library, 2015)
Read by Kirby Heyborne and Ariadne Meyers
This title is a nominee in the 2016 Audie Awards: Young Adult Category
From Goodreads: “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.”
Niven is a new-to-me author, and I got a lot of pleasure from her storytelling style. It’s frank and smart and a little off-beat and quite affecting without being sentimental. Given that this is a novel about two sometimes-suicidal teens, that’s not an easy task, I’m sure.
I will always be a sucker for Kirby Heyborne’s narration. He’s one whose name will convince me to pick audio instead of print for a book I’m considering. He has a knack for befriending his characters, and ensuring the listener will feel as sympathetic towards them as he does. Ariadne Meyers is new-to-me, and her command on Violet’s raw and often shaky world grounded her and helped her reach my heart. I suspect when I hear her narrate in future, I will always remember Violet’s story because of how well she defined the character for me.