When Theodore Finch first speaks to Violet Markey, a girl he barely knows, it’s on top of their high school bell tower, where they are both contemplating suicide. As they help each other off the ledge, this heart-breaking yet beautiful novel begins to unfold. Told in alternating points of view, both Finch and Violet express why they’re struggling and how their unlikely friendship affects their worlds in different and unexpected ways.
Using dual viewpoints to reveal more than one side of the story isn’t a groundbreaking writing technique, but All the Bright Places is an excellent example of how to layer overlapping voices to create a resonating story. As Violent and Finch share their experiences, they show their vastly different reasons for depression and hopelessness. As the novel progresses, having two sides of the story also provides clues to when one narrator may not be as reliable as we thought. As a writer, this book embodies the ways that two strong characters can work together to create a multidimensional story. Like a patchwork quilt, all the pieces must hold their own, but also come together to create one beautiful image. If you’re currently working on a novel with dual perspectives, I recommend All the Bright Places as a resource, but also as an engrossing YA read.