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.
Firstly, let me explain how I got my hands on this book. My Penguin rep at work knows that I love and adore the book ‘The Fault in our Stars’. Its been a favourite since I first read it two years ago. So when he got some early copies of this book, he brought one into work for me.
“This will be the next John Green!” He said.
So of course, I had to read it, just to prove that it would not be. (I hate books that are ‘the next old big series’ Because it shouldn’t be compared, they are different books and authors)
I honestly started out wanting to hate it, just because of the comparison, but I was pleasantly surprised.
More than that.
I loved this book.
Finch and Violet are both struggling with life. Violet cannot wait for school to finish so she can escape. Finch…he just wants to escape life, but can never take the last step towards ending it.
And when they meet, it gives them a chance for something to live for.
But this isn’t just a love story.
What I loved about this book was that it opens your eyes to mental illness.
The whole way through the book, you know there is something Finch struggles with. He had a bad childhood, and that has shadowed him as he grew up. And it has also shadowed him more because it seems no one cares. He is just Finch, the strange and eccentric boy who wants to die. No one ever bothers to look past that.
But between this, he is a wonderful, brilliant character. I think the thing I love about him is that he never knows who he is, so each week, he tries out a ‘different Finch’. From the British Finch to the badass Finch, he is doing what every young person is trying to do.
And that is why he is so relatable to teenagers. (not that everyone dresses up to find themselves, but its still the same idea. People go ‘searching’ for themselves…)
Violet lost her sister and is struggling with grief. I know first had how difficult that is, and all those clichés like ‘it will get better with time’, they are good in speech but useless when you have to wade through each day without the person you care about.
Violet loved to write, and she used to write with her sister, but now she cannot. Even at school, she struggles.
Both the characters are so beautifully written and I honestly wish I could wrap both of them in a hug.
So, the mental illness part. This was really clever- in the whole book, although you know something is wrong, words like depression are never used. Why? Because Finch hates labels. I mean, who doesn’t? But he doesn’t want to be just another teenager with a problem, so he almost…buries his head in the sand about it.
(Side note; it was in mine, and I believe it is in other editions, but at the end there is information about suicide and mental illness.)
Not going to lie about this- The end destroyed me. The whole book is amazingly written and I would not change any of it, but it broke me completely.
This is the kind of book that stays with you, long after you read it. You can put it on the shelf and not look at it for months, but the characters and their lives and love will stay in your head forever.