All the Bright Places | Study Guide

Jennifer Niven

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All the Bright Places | Part 1, Chapters 1–2 | Summary


The novel is organized into three parts. Each part contains alternating titled entries from the main characters Finch and Violet. For the purposes of this study guide, the titled entries have been labeled with chapter numbers.


Part 1, Chapter 1: FINCH I am awake again. Day 6.

Theodore Finch is atop a bell tower at his high school, "on a narrow ledge six stories above the ground." He imagines suicide. He doesn't recall climbing to the tower, but he knows this urge he has is ongoing. While there, he sees Violet Markey. She is part of the popular crowd, friends with "Amanda Monk and the other queen bees." They talk, and ultimately, Finch convinces Violet to go back to safety.

His best friend, Charlie Donahue, reminds him that it's pizza day, and one of the school jocks, Gabe Roamer, tells Finch to jump. Neither Violet nor Finch jump. Afterward, he sees his school counselor, Mr. Embry, who reminds him he's on probation, gives him pamphlets, and increases the frequency of their meetings.

Part 1, Chapter 2: VIOLET 154 days till graduation

Violet sees her counselor, Mrs. Marion Kresney. They discuss Violet's bad dreams, college plans, and the website she used to run with her sister, Eleanor: They discuss Violet's refusal to drive or ride in a car, as well as her withdrawal from all her usual school activities. After therapy, people stop her in the hallway and tell her she is courageous for saving Finch, which leads to her pondering Finch. She thinks Finch is "kind of ... extreme." Violet reveals while in class that she has a headache, probably from wearing her dead sister's glasses. She receives notes from her ex-boyfriend, Ryan Cross, about saving Finch. Violet lingers after class, hoping Mrs. Mahone will excuse her from writing the 10-page essay she just assigned—because Violet, still grieving nine months later over her sister's death is "not ready" yet.


This first section establishes a variety of details that are useful in understanding the novel. The most obvious is that both Theodore Finch and Violet Markey suffer from suicidal inclinations. Violet is obviously depressed about the death of her sister, Eleanor Markey. Finch is more complicated. Violet is a member of the popular crowd at school, but she's currently experiencing intense sadness over her sister's death.

Both students receive in-school counseling. Noting the difficulty Violet is having over her sister and her popular social status will show the reader that her suicidal ideation is a result of short-term circumstances. She wears her dead sister's glasses. She uses her grief as an excuse to miss classes. Finch, however, is ostracized, potentially bullied, and has a longer history of being alienated and mocked.

Finch's suicidal inclinations are more evident to his school counselor, as well as to Finch. The counselor, however, is ill equipped for figuring out how to help Finch. Pamphlets and reminders to Finch that "he's here" are not enough. The reader can see this already. Finch thinks Mr. Embry's pamphlets and attempts to help are "not much of a comfort." As the narration continues, the question of the counselor's ability to help Finch—and if there was something else he ought to have done—becomes inevitable.

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