Book review: Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven

Title: Holding Up The Universe
Author: Jennifer Niven
Daniela’s rating: 3 stars

Blurb:

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.

Daniela’s review


While I enjoyed reading this book (mostly), there were moments I wanted to just drop it because I felt I was starting to lose interest. This is my second time reading anything by Jennifer Niven and sadly it was not as good as All The Bright Places (which was incredible).

So, we have these two teens with two different *main* problems. One was declared America’s fattest teen a few years back. Everyone knew who she was and what had happened to her. Then, we have another one who simply can’t recognize anyone, not even his family, but no one knows about this. They meet in this weird encounter, which ends up forcing them to interact further. Libby has always struggle with her weight and now she’s managed to overcome it and yes, she lost some of it, but she now feels comfortable in her skin. Jack, on the other hand, couldn’t feel more like a stranger. He doesn’t recognize the face that looks back at him in the mirror, so, how can he know who he truly is? This story is all about finding out who you are and embracing it proudly.

The characters:

Well, Libby is a strong character and I loved seeing her not dwelling on stupid people or not taking their shit. It shows that she’s had a rough learning process, but she’s overcome it. Also, I liked how we could see her inner struggle, because even though she fought for herself whenever she needed it, we could see the toll it took on her and how much it hurt her.

Then there’s Jack, who I liked. I liked that he was constantly trying to be the best version he could be of himself, but still messed up.

The story:

I had so much hopes for this book. After I read All The Bright Places, it felt like it would have the same kind of vibe, one that makes you fall completely in love with the characters and their story, one that was deep. But, it wasn’t. I mean, yes I enjoyed it, but there were things that didn’t add up or sounded a bit shallow considering both issues are extremely delicate and real. It was overall okay.

I think, there were a couple of times the problems or the way the characters dealt with them was a bit shallow or too quick for me to get into the moment. Towards the end, the story started taking some turns that were kind of predictable and kind of took the realistic element to the characters’ issues. It was okay, I just had high expectations about it.

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