I don’t know if I even have the words within me to describe how beautifully this book was written, and how much it left my emotions tied in knots after being repeatedly wrung through a wringer.
Finch and Violet meet at the top of the school bell tower, both perilously close to the edge, both physically and mentally. And after Finch talks Violet down from the railings, it seems like he might be her lifeline and the only one capable of bringing her back to (relative) normality.
You see, Violet’s sister Eleanor was recently killed in a car crash, an accident that Violet feels responsible for, and ever since then, it’s like she’s been living in a black hole. And if anyone knows about black holes, it’s Finch. Unwilling to accept a label for his mental health problems (since everyone knows what happens when you get a label), he teeters wildly on the edge of a cliff, waiting to fall at any time.
It seems like they each may have found the perfect person to help with their problems and enable them to move forward, even though Violet may need a bit of persuading that Finch isn’t completely insane.
I don’t want to go any further into the plot from here as I don’t think I can without risking any major spoilers, but let’s just say the ending wasn’t quite what I expected.
Kudos to Niven for being able to write the book in such a way that I wasn’t able to predict the future of either character. And major kudos to Niven for tackling such sensitive subjects with tact and care. It’s obvious that Niven has taken the time to make sure she doesn’t just run to the typical stereotypes of the mental health problems dealt with, and the characters are first and foremost human, not just a caricature of a problem.
If I could read this book again straight away, I would, but this time I’d read it so much more slowly and luxuriate in Finch and Violet’s wanderings around Indiana and their blossoming relationship.
Captivating and beautiful, I can see why the Guardian review snippet on the cover calls it ‘the next Fault in Our Stars’.