BOOK DISCUSSION: ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES BY JENNIFER NIVEN

18460392Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Published: 2015 by Knopf
388 pages
Source: purchased
Click here to find it on Goodreads

“You are all the colours in one, at full brightness.”

Caution! Spoilers ahead!

Thoughts before starting the book?
Mackenzie: I didn’t really know what it was about or what to expect. The lady at the bookstore recommended it to me and said it was very good and I heard good things online. I also heard they were making a movie adaptation and that got me interested because it’s not too often that a new release already has a movie in the works.
Mallory: I don’t even think I had heard of it until you guys suggested it. I was a little upset that they made the comparison to The Fault in Our Stars because let’s be honest, we all know someone is going to die when that happens.
Maria: I sort of had high expectations because of it being compared to The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park, but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did.
Marissa: I didn’t know anything about it going in so I just kind of blindly jumped in.

What were your first thoughts on Finch?
Mackenzie: Finch I really liked but he was a weird character. I loved how he cared so much about Violet. It was interesting to hear his point of view about like and stuff.
Mallory: I adored Finch right from the get go. He seemed to have such positive thoughts about everything, even after we learned about his growing up. I loved that he wasn’t afraid to change his personality from week to week and no one could bring him down.
Maria: I wasn’t sure how i was going to feel about Finch. The fact that he was so “out there” and had suicidal thoughts made me wonder if I would be able to connect with his character. The more I read, the more I loved him! He was smart, funny and full of adventure. He narrated his parts of the story amazingly! I don’t think I will be forgetting his character for a long time.
Marissa: I really fell in love with Finch’s character. He was so easy to picture and seemed like a loveable guy.

And Violet?
Mackenzie: Violet was just okay for me, though I felt bad for her loss, she was like every other high school student except she wasn’t living life until she met Finch.
Mallory: With Violet I felt so bad for her, Finch was exactly what she needed to bring her life and joy back to her.
Maria: I thought that Violet was a sweet girl. I was glad that she was there for Finch. She understood him more than anybody and accepted him the way he was.
Marissa: I wasn’t sure about Violet at first because I was worried she’d be a super annoying and popular girl, but I started to like her more once we got more of her story.

What did you think after Finch talked Violet down from the balcony but she continued to let everyone call him Theodore Freak?
Mackenzie: I understood because she didn’t know him well, but she could have stood up for it. It really frustrated me that she went with the popular kids and ignored him.
Mallory: I was really disappointed in her character then. I understand she didn’t want everyone knowing it was her but it really bugged me how she let everyone keep calling him that. I think if someone saved my life I’d be forever grateful and would stand up for them no matter how unpopular they were.
Maria: I didn’t really think too much of it… I don’t think I expected her to change right away, or to defend him right away either. The pacing was done right in this book. It wouldn’t have seemed as “real” otherwise.
Marissa: I really thought she’d be the bigger person and stand up for him. Super disappointing.

What did you think of the wanderings?
Mackenzie: I really liked it and that’s when I started liking Violet as a character and loving Finch. Even though he has problems he is a great person. I loved their adventures and how it brought them together. Violet finally started to live after her sister’s death.
Mallory: Sooo cute. So so cute. Like better than any date I’ve read in a story. The wanderings made me so happy I found myself smiling the whole time they were out. It really got Violet to live a little more and you could really see both characters coming out of their shells a lot more.
Maria: I thought that this was an awesome part of the book. It took the characters on so many adventures. They didn’t stop at just two, they kept finding new wanders to visit. These places brought the characters closer together and helped them be themselves despite what they were going through. It makes me want to go on my own wanders.
Marissa: It was so fun since they were so unusual. I thought it was pretty great that Finch was able to get Violet in a car again after the accident.

Did you like the use of the alternating chapter points of views?
Mackenzie: Yes because they were two very complex characters that had two different stories and two different points of view. If there wasn’t both of their points of views, especially Finch, I think it would have ruined the story.
Mallory: At first I only liked Finch’s chapters. So getting to Violet’s got a little slow for me. But once I started liking her I found that it made the book fly by a lot faster than if it had been just one point of view.
Maria: I think that it was done really well! Both characters were written so good, they really each had their own voice in the story. I especially loved Finch’s point of view.
Marissa: I really liked getting a boys point of view, it was a nice change.

What did you think of the writing style?
Mackenzie: I loved it! It was beautiful and I loved the metaphors that Finch had and it felt a lot like John Green and Rainbow Rowell mixed together which I loved. This book should be put into schools. It could help so much and give others information.
Mallory: You can tell the author has dealt with this in her life (if you read the authors note at the end you will find this information). So much emotion came through her words. It makes a whole different story when you can feel the emotion they are conveying through the story telling.
Maria: I absolutely loved it. It surprised me so much.
Marissa: I liked it a lot. It was almost poetic. And I agree with Mallory, so much emotion was conveyed through it all.

Did you like the parts about the use of post it notes? When Finch would have them all over his walls and then Violet started using his method?
Mackenzie: Yes it was a nice twist to the book and very creative and original. It was cute. This book would have really affected me when I was younger and it would have been great to read it while I was still in school.
Mallory: It’s cool things like that that really stick out to me in a book. Staring at the cover I wondered how the post it notes would come into play. And it’s funny how them writing simple little words on them would hit me right in the the feels. I loved the part where they would write good words and post them and then write bad words and crumple them up.
Maria: It was definitely a unique part of the story. Finch was a unique character so of course it fit well. I agree with Mallory, it’s these little things that are going to reach out to young readers.
Marissa: Yeah it made me want to cover my room in post it notes!

Did you think Finch was going to kill himself? And if so, how did you think he was going to do it?
Mackenzie: I wasn’t sure. I kept going back and forth. I thought Violet would have helped him get better. After he left and barely answered I knew he would since it was only Violet’s perspective. I really think he could have gotten better, it was so sad. I had no idea how, he changes his mind so much I couldn’t even guess.
Mallory: Yes and no and yes and no. My mind was so back and forth with this. I kept thinking no, even after he swallowed the pills. I didn’t think he was going to leave Violet like that, especially after having helped her get over the death of her sister. After him leaving I knew he would. But how really stumped me. I thought he was going to crash his van.
Maria: I don’t know how to answer this at all! It was definitely in the back of my mind the entire time that I was reading the story, but I fell so hard for the characters that I couldn’t help by HOPE that the author wouldn’t do that to me! I actually cried when it hit me, and I felt a bit of hatred towards Violet for telling her parents (not going to lie). Basically, I was sitting on my couch, crying, saying no no no no no, please be alive, you have to help Violet, you have to finish the project, you have to LIVE!
Marissa: I sadly knew he was going to, I just didn’t know when or how. I wanted it to be a happy ending but after he moved into his closet I definitely knew it was going to happen. I kind of thought he was going to crash his van by going too fast.

Did you like the use of the back story? Eg Finch’s dad beating him and Violet’s sister dying in the crash (showing us that anything can drive someone to think that suicide is the only answer).
Mackenzie: Not really because it was sad but his dad really didn’t make a difference at all and I hated him. It was interesting to hear about Violet’s sister because it played a big part in her story.
Mallory: It makes me feel so bad knowing the one thing can make such a harsh difference in someone’s life. I want to help all the people going through suicidal thoughts.
Maria: I appreciated it. It had me putting myself in their shoes and understanding their situations a lot more. The whole mental illness aspect of the book really had me interested. It really hit me hard and opened my eyes up.
Marissa: The back story let us see into Finch’s world so much and how he felt alone in his family which I liked a lot. I wanted to know more of Violet’s story other than just her sister.

What was going through your mind when Violet went to find him?
Mackenzie: That I hoped he was alive and she could bring him back home but I knew deep down that he was already gone. I reread it at least three times.
Mallory: I had such a dreading feeling. I didn’t want her of be the one to find him. I looked ahead a few paragraphs and when she said she found him I thought he was alive and felt so relieved. Then kept reading and the dread settled in a little more. I can’t imagine the haunting feeling of finding someone like that.
Maria: I was freaking out. Hardcore. It was like I knew what she was going to find, but I didn’t want to bring myself to believe it. I read that part of the book over again just so I could deal.
Marissa: I felt so sad for her the whole time especially since Finch’s mom made her go find him. It was so sad.

And final question, were you happy that she was brave enough to finish the wanderings without him?
Mackenzie: Yes, I knew that she would find something he left behind when she went. It was so beautiful but so sad.
Mallory: The way she did them and found all of his little clues was so adorable it made my heart hurt. But it was nice to see her not coop herself up and away from everyone, but go out and get the closure that she needed. I think for the heaviness of the story the ending was a lot happier than I expected it to be.
Maria: Yes! I was really sad and I don’t know how she did it, but I was so proud of her. I was happy with what Finch left behind for her and I think that finishing the project helped her heal.
Marissa: I loved that she had the courage to do so and was able to get a final goodbye through them. I was reading the last wandering in my religion class and was crying when she read the song he left. So sad but so romantic.

Can we just take a second to also appreciate the name UltraViolet ReMarkeyable?
Mackenzie: Yes!! That was so cute!!
Mallory: If a boy ever gave me a name like that I would cry. Sooo adorable.
Maria: Yes! Everything about this story was so flipping cute and original
Marissa: Gah, so adorable!

Rating on Goodreads?
Mackenzie: ★★★★★
Mallory: ★★★★
Maria: ★★★★★
Marissa: ★★★★

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BOOK DISCUSSION: THE SPECTACULAR NOW BY TIM THARP

During the month of September myself, Maria, Marissa and Mackenzie decided to make an online book club. We chose the book The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp and we had our discussion through the kik app. We mostly just chirped out random things here and there but I decided to put our discussion together into a post.

CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Click here to find it on Goodreads
17620971Title: The Spectacular Now
Author: Tim Tharp
Published: 2008 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
304 pages

“To hell with tomorrow. To hell with all problems and barriers. Nothing matters now but the Spectacular Now.”

First question. What did you think before going into the book? Before you even read page one what were your thoughts?
Mackenzie: I had kinda high expectations because I had seen the trailer for the movie and I thought it would be something I was really going to like.
Mallory: I completely thought I was going into a cheesy love story.
Maria: Before reading the book I didn’t have any idea what the story was about. And when I read the first few pages about the day time drinking and such, I was really surprised! But after reading it, it wasn’t really what I had expected.
Marissa: I cheated a little bit because I had watched the movie prior to reading it, but I was very excited with high expectations for it.

So what did you think of the ending?
Mackenzie: It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I wanted more to happen. It stopped at the weirdest place and it never answered any questions.
Mallory: I was so upset with that ending I literally wanted to throw my book at the wall.
Maria: I thought it would end differently. I was really waiting for that happy ending.
Marissa: The ending was so abrupt, I had to read it like twice.

What did you think of Sutter?
Mackenzie: I didn’t like him as a character, I wasn’t a big fan of his attitude and the drinking thing. I feel like none of his problems got solved either, he had no growth as a character which was disappointing. I did enjoying reading from his point of view and how it was so different from anything I’ve read but I just thought he didn’t learn anything through out the story,
Mallory: It was refreshing to have a character that is full of flaws. And the whole time I was pissed that it wasn’t a love story ending when I think the concept was more so that no one is perfect and we are probably all going to make mistakes and end up doing the wrong thing most of the time. And I loved his care free drinking attitude. He would definitely be an interesting person to hang out with.
Maria: I found his personality, as much as it was out there and dick-ish (I can’t think of any other way to put it) really made the story entertaining. His careless, bad attitude kind of drew me in. I thought he was really funny too. But I know where Mackenzie is coming from because it is hard to read and connect with a character when you are against the way he acts. He really disappointed me in the end because I felt like he had so much potential. As much as he made the story entertaining, he also made it very very frustrating because he could have learned but just didn’t. I wouldn’t mind having a drink with him.
Marissa: I liked him because he was a real character with flaws and attitude. I really liked that he always had a witty comeback. But there are some parts that made me cringe about him, like with any character. But overall, I agree with Maria and the bad boy attitude drawing me in. And I agree with Mallory, I loved his 7up and whiskey, the only thing you could count on him for.

What did you think of Sutter and Aimee’s relationship?
Mackenzie: I hated how he changed Aimee and lead her on, it was so frustrating! She was such a nice person and I didn’t want her to get hurt.
Mallory: I really just wanted things between them to work out. I think they made a great couple because they were so opposite. 
Maria: The entire time I felt like he was using Aimee and that I didn’t like.
Marissa: I was hoping he would end up going with her in the end.

What did you think of Aimee?
Mackenzie: I didn’t connect with Aimee but I felt bad for her. I did like that she reads. She just agreed with what everyone told her. She wasn’t very independent or spoke for herself. And she was peer pressured a lot.
Mallory: I felt sad for Aimee. She is definitely the type you could see getting cheated on and that made me really sad.
Maria: I had a harder time connecting with Aimee for some reason, I ended up liking his ex girlfriend better. It isn’t that I didn’t like her and I wanted to connect with her more, but she kind of annoyed me and I can’t pinpoint why. I felt bad with her but he just had more chemistry with his ex.
Marissa: I felt bad for Aimee since Sutter was all over the place with “oh I’m not gonna date her” and then turns around and takes her to prom and everything. And she was none the wiser so she just went along with it and really, truly loved him.

What did you think of Sutter hanging out with his ex while he was “with” Aimee?
Mackenzie: I didn’t like it but I did like his relationship with the ex he kept seeing at parties where they talked like Italian mobsters.
Mallory: Well I would not be letting my boyfriend hang out with his ex. I didn’t like that he was seeing her behind Aimee’s back. But I did love the parts with Cassidy and I loved that she was fat. You never really get a fat character in books.
Maria: I have two different opinions for that one. In a way I thought that it was good for them to develop trust. But in a way I was so mad because I couldn’t imagine being in Aimee’s shoes. I wouldn’t like it. Plus the girls are so different. I liked Cassidy a lot and she was fun to read about for sure. And I liked how she was so sure of herself, compared to reading about Aimee. I liked that she wasn’t a stick and she had confidence. I was happy that Sutter had a friend like her and that she supported his relationship with Aimee, but it would have been better if they hadn’t dated in the past and they wouldn’t have to hide their relationship from Aimee.
Marissa: I felt so bad for Aimee but I really admired Cassidy’s wisdom that she brought to the book. She was insightful and a break from Sutter’s attitude. I liked that she was fat as well.

What did you think of Sutter finding his dad?
Mackenzie: I expected more but they had no contact for so long that it wasn’t really a big shock that it didn’t work out.
Mallory: I kind of expected hi, to be just the way he was and I knew it wasn’t going to turn out well at all. It was a big deal for a few pages and then it was done.
Maria: I had a bad feeling about it. I wasn’t expecting it to work out either but I was hoping Sutter would learn something from it. It could have easily been left out of the story.
Marissa: I did not like the dad part. It didn’t add much to the story for me and I would have rather a relationship between his mom or his sister. It just annoyed me more than anything.

Did you like the way it was written?
Mackenzie: I really loved the way it was written. I just with I connected more to the characters.
Mallory: I loved the way it was written and found myself loling quite a bit. Everything feeling realistic was a major plus for me.
Maria: I liked that humour was thrown in there and found myself laughing out loud at times. I also liked that it was very realistic. The author clearly tried speaking to teenagers. Drinking is bad and it pretty much painted a picture of what its like to lose control and the consequences that it would bring.
Marissa: I like that the author made them seem like I was listening in on two real people having a conversation and not just characters written on paper. And there were a few really nice quotes that I found myself highlighting so thats always nice.

What did you rate in on Goodreads?
Mackenzie: ★★★★
Mallory: ★★★★
Maria: ★★★
Marissa: ★★★★