Let’s get one thing straight. I’m still stuck in teenage. I still delight in books written for teenagers and young adults. Why? Because teenagers in the US do things we only start doing when we’re in our 20s here. Or let me just speak for myself. They do things I am not even doing yet myself.
Why am I thinking this now, of all times? Two of the few books I couldn’t put down this year are specifically written for young adults. One was Paper Towns by John Green. I found it to be mostly stupid but I couldn’t stop reading all the same. The other is the one I just finished a few minutes ago: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. I bought it last Sunday, while I was browsing through TBC, quite impressed at how they’d stepped up their stock-recent-books game. Why did I buy it? Because it had been rubberstamped by the Guardian as the next The Fault in Our Stars.
While I found it quite interesting to read, I also found it a bit absurd, like most American things I read because, let’s face it, they live in a different world. How kids have so much freedom to do stuff, whether fictional or not, blows my mind. In the end, All the Bright Places is a story that has some deep thoughts about suicide and what goes through people’s heads before they do it. It’s sad but a great read with an author whose heart was in the right place. Her own experiences made her write it. While no particular quote stood out for me, like from The Fault in Our Stars, it made me think about life and living. About the labels we give people. About the stuff we hide because we think our peers will judge us.
I can tell you for a fact that we all hide issues that eat us up. Some big, some small but in our eyes they appear bigger than they really are because we’re convinced they are unforgivable. That’s why I am here hoping that anyone I call a friend, anyone who calls me friend does not keep things from me because they think I’ll judge them. Trust me, I am probably the last person who should be judging anyone. Don’t hide stuff you could be talking to someone close to you about. It neither helps you nor them. And when someone does open up to you, you owe it to them to be the shoulder they are looking for. Forget your ego. Forget that you don’t like how he can’t make conversation. Forget that she looks like she has it all together. Just listen. This goes beyond fiction. It’s real.
Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky. Philippians 2:15
The Bible verse Violet finds marked out for her by Finch at the end of the book. No spoilers.
Having said that. Just in case you see a fictional post up here soon or in the past, know that I went to great lengths to tell a true story through fiction, just to save the real people the stress of being spoken about in public. It’s my own way of therapy. And so, future husband, you have been warned.