Publishing Date: January 6
Genre: young adult, contemporary
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.
Theodore “Freak” Finch fluctuates between Awake and Asleep states, only it’s different from being awake and sleeping. One day he’s fine and energized and full of life; time passes, and later he’s disconnected, his only desire is to crawl into someplace dark and warm. He’ll come out some time later — a long time later — and he does this so often his friends and family think nothing of it. Violet Markey, once a cheerful and popular girl, is also disconnected from the world, blaming herself for her sister’s death in their shared car wreck. Brought together at the top of the school’s bell tower and later in their US Geography class, Finch and Violet’s lives collide. She keeps him Awake, he keeps her Alive; together, they remind one another what it means to live, to wander, to find adventure, and sink into beauty. But as Violet’s world expands, Finch’s shrinks, to the point where she is his only star.
When the publishers market this as The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor & Park, they weren’t kidding. Grab yourself a box of tissues, read up on mental illness, and grab a map of Indiana. You’re in for a very raw, emotional, enlightening, and literal journey.
I want to meet Niven. I want to meet her and hug her and thank her. I want to bow at her feet. I want to buy all the copies ever of this book and give them to all of my friends — my undergraduate peers in the psychology department, the friends and coworkers with mental illnesses, the friends and family who are survivors of death and suicide. I want them to see that it is possible to write and read a book that touches upon these subjects exactly how it’s experienced, and yet treats them with love and respect and dignity.
This is a book about death. It is not glorified nor is it shamed. This is a book about mental illness. It is not treated lightly nor does it sadden the reader — it’s enlightening. It’s refreshing. It’s filled with love and beauty. It’s a roller coaster ride, and Finch and Violet are our guides. Indiana is the back drop — and I’m so thrilled at how beautiful Niven paints this state. For once, Hoosier country isn’t simply defined by TFiOS, but this next great YA novel.
It truly is great. I can’t even give this a proper review without accidentally revealing everything about this book. Just know that this is the book readers of all ages are waiting for.
Thank you, Edelweiss, for providing this copy from Knopf for review!