Title: Holding Up the Universe Author: Jennifer Niven Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance Pages: 388 Synopsis:Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed 'America's Fattest Teen'. But no one's taken the time to look past her weight to get to see who she really is. Since her mum's death, she's been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby's ready: for high school,for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin too. Yes, he's got swagger, but he's also mastered the art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a secret: he can't recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He's the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can't understand what's going on with the inner workings of his own brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don't get too close to anyone. Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game which lands them in group counseling, Libby and Jack are both angry, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world - theirs and yours.
Review: Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know how much I adore All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. It’s one of my all time favourite books. To say I had high expectations for Holding Up the Universe would be an understatement. But I have to say, Niven definitely delivered.
I loved Libby. She was so strong and optimistic despite everything she had been through. Though she had been labeled as ‘America’s Fattest Teen’ a few years earlier, I love how when she began attending high school again she kind of owned that label and made it her own. I found her to be such an inspiring character and her story made me want to stop being scared and own the things that make me different.
“If everyone who had something to say about me spent as much time on, I don’t know, practicing kindness or developing a soul, imagine how lovely the world would be.”
I also really loved Jack. I’ve never read a book about prosopagnosia before which is a disorder that makes someone unable to recognise faces, no matter how many times they see someone. I think one of the things I loved most about Jack was how he treated Libby, like her weight didn’t make her who she was. I loved his family and their dynamic. And I seriously loved picturing his ‘lion mane afro.’ I think another cool thing about Jack was that he wasn’t white and it was really great seeing that diversity in HUTU.
The reason I’ve given this four instead of five stars was because I felt like the plot wasn’t super original (but I still loved it). I loved so many things about this novel but it just didn’t pack the emotional sucker punch I was hoping for.
This book really is so beautiful and and lovely. Jennifer Niven’s writing style is such a joy to read and she is so good at creating characters I can’t help but love. Though I definitely didn’t enjoy this as much as ATBP but it really was just as wonderful.
I love how Niven explores topics that I’ve never really seen represented in YA literature. I feel like I haven’t read many books featuring a character like Libby who has struggled with their weight but loves herself anyway. This book and its characters just made me want to dance. It was so empowering and left me really inspired. If you haven’t read this book yet then you should definitely give it a go. I think this is the kind of book that even if you don’t like it, you’ll still take something away from it.
You are not a freak. You are wanted. You are necessary. You are the only you there is. Don’t be afraid to leave the castle. It’s a great big world out there.
Love, a fellow reader.”