Study Guide

All the Bright Places Family

By Jennifer Niven

Family

The nightmares started after the accident. She asks about them every time I see her, because I made the mistake of mentioning them to my mom, who mentioned them to her. This is one of the main reasons why I'm here and why I've stopped telling my mom anything. (2.9)

Violet doesn't feel like she can talk to her parents, especially after her mom rats her out to the school counselor.

Mom is suddenly listening. "Decca." She shakes her head. This is the extent of her parenting. Ever since my dad left, she's tried really hard to be the cool parent. (3.65)

Finch's mom has had a hard time since his dad left the family. As a result, she hasn't been very present as a parent.

Like Ryan, my parents are perfect. They are strong and brave and caring, and even though I know they must cry and get angry and maybe even throw things when they're alone, they rarely show it to me. (5.57)

Violet's parents are perfect…maybe a little too perfect. Sometimes she longs for them to show some real emotion about Eleanor's death.

I told Principal Wertz my dad was killed in a hunting accident. He never bothered to check up on it, and now he calls my mother whenever there's a problem, which means he actually calls Kate because Mom never bothers to check voicemail. (8.8)

Kate, posing as Finch's mom, got him out of school for six weeks, among other things. Sometimes Finch himself deletes voicemail that were meant for his mom.

My mother sighs in relief before taking another drink and going after her. She does her best parenting on Sundays. (8.28)

There are lots of hints that Finch's mom is an alcoholic. That said, is it just us, or is this passage sort of mean?

But it's not just a headache I feel, I can see it, like it's made up of a million colors, all of them blinding. When I tried to describe it to Kate once she said, "You can thank Dad for that. Maybe if he hadn't used your head as a punching bag." (18.8)

This is the first time Finch mentions his father's abuse. It sounds like Finch's injuries may be tied to his bipolar disorder.

I hold up my hands and they're shaking, because my hands, like the rest of me, would like to kill my father. Ever since I was ten and he sent Mom to the hospital with a busted chin, and then a year later when it was my turn. (21.19)

So Finch's dad is a wife beater, too. Wow. What a charmer.

I walk all the way to Violet's, where we build the world's largest snowman. […] Afterward, we sit with her parents around the fire and I pretend I'm part of the family. (32.1)

More than once, Finch mentions how jealous he is of how close Violet is with her family. While we can see where he's coming from, it's a little unfair. Violet's sister just died, after all.

I take a deep breath and dive, grateful for the dark of the water and the warmth against my skin. I swim to get away from Josh Raymond, and my cheating father, and Violet's involved parents who are also her friends, and my sad, deserted mother, and my bones. (32.31)

A lot of the stress in Finch's life comes from his problems with his family. When he contemplates suicide, all of that melts away.

On the big side, my family could be better, but I'm not the only kid who feels that way. At least they haven't thrown me out on the street. (41.12)

Eventually, Finch throws himself out on the street. Do you think things would have been different if he had been closer with his family?