Holding Up the Universe By Jennifer Niven
Published by Ember
Release date: October 4th, 2016
YA Contemporary, Romance, Fiction 391 pages
Do you ever wonder if it’s everyone else who sees the world differently? Like maybe you see people the way they’re supposed to be seen. ~Jennifer Niven
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 know who she really is. Following her mom’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. In that moment, 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 impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired 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 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 and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, 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
“It’s the suddenness of life changing in an instant that makes me anxious when I sleep and makes me tell myself to breathe when I’m awake.” ~
I really enjoyed this novel, and it’s my first read by Jennifer Niven. I’ve heard many great things about her books, and I was not disappointed.
This novel was built on the characters and I really liked both of the main characters. Libby was my favorite, her grief and fear was relatable, although maybe not to that extent. Her struggle with weight as she goes through high school is one of the most relatable concepts for teens, and I was taken right back to my own high school days. She also reminded me a little of Eleanor from Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park.
Jack was quite an interesting character. I had not previously heard of Prosopagnosia, and was unaware of just how many people suffer from this face recognition problem. The personality he had to develop to deal with it was interesting, and I really liked his development when he became more involved with Libby.
The way that the novel flowed was interesting and slightly different than other novels I’ve read. The way the days were introduced was interesting. I also liked the short chapters that alternated between Libby and Jack.
The plot was also very engaging, and I also got some ‘Sierra Burgess is a Loser’ vibes from the plot. The dialogue was hilarious at times, and the sarcasm was very relatable. The dialogue between Jack and Libby was also very cute, and their relationship was enjoyable to read. Overall I really enjoyed this novel, and I’m really interested to read her novel All The Bright Places soon. I give this novel 4/5 stars.
Thanks for reading! Mara x