When Finch and Violet meet one another on the ledge of their school’s bell tower, it’s a mystery who saves who; though Finch talks Violet down, she can’t be seen as “the girl who almost jumped after her sister died”, so Finch takes the fall, and Violet is a hero. It doesn’t matter to Finch, though; he’s met the first person he can relate to in a long time, and now he’s determined not to let her go. A school project brings them together: a task to wander their home state of Indiana, to find all of its Hoosier Wonders. As Violet begins to heal, though, Finch finds himself torn between the joy of puppy love, or the ache of the storm inside his own head.
I picked this book up expecting greatness after hearing endless great reviews and promises that it would make me cry, but unfortunately, I spent most of the book being annoyed by Violet’s attitude, and irked by the total lack of real attachment between the writing itself and the events that unfold.
Terrible events occur throughout the course of the book that feel like the author has simply deposited them into the reader’s lap and kept walking. I never was able to feel enough of a connection to love any characters, or to laugh, or to grieve, and when I reached the author’s note at the end, I was honestly stunned that Niven had experience with the contents of the book, because the emotions portrayed felt so… lacking, and insincere. I hate to be harsh, but I’m the sort of reader who gets misty when the narrator remembers their family dog dying ten years prior – if I can make it through this book without as much as a sting in my eye, there’s something missing.
With my review on the writing itself aside, as I mentioned, Violet is frustrating for most of the book, as her narration proves her to be a fairly deep and empathetic person, but her actions suggest “basic high school mean girl” to a point, and that trope feels played out. Finch is sometimes delightful and witty, and many of his insights regarding his mental state were deep and easy to relate to, though it was hard to really buy into how quickly he fell for a girl he’d hardly spoken to before… and honestly, he’s downright stalkerish.