From the author of the New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places comes a heart-wrenching story about what it means to see someone—and love someone—for who they truly are. 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 in new and bad-ass ways, 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. Jennifer Niven delivers another poignant, exhilarating love story about finding that person who sees you for who you are—and seeing them right back.
Holding Up The UniverseFeatured
What I liked:
The first thing that made me fall for Holding Up the Universe is Jennifer Niven's writing. It's the kind that is addictive and easy to follow, light yet with enough weight to strike heart chords. Readers will have trouble putting it down (like me) after reading the first page because her writing just hooks and doesn't let go!
The main characters in Holding Up the Universe are wonderful, starting with Libby. There's nothing that I did not love about her! Libby is strong, sweet, clever, and someone that truly inspires to embrace and love your body. Size does not stop anyone from dancing or running or doing any other thing that makes you feel good, and Libby proves that wonderfully. She is definitely one of the best characters I have had the pleasure of meeting in a YA Contemporary novel!
Another great character is Jack Masselin, who has an unusual condition called Prosopagnosia (also known as face blindness) which means that he can see you, but not remember your face the second you turn away. His POV is such an interesting, eye-opening experience that instantly made me appreciate all his effort to remember the littlest of details in order to lead a somewhat normal life. I love how his character grows so much throughout the novel and how everything he does eventually leads him back to Libby, who in return, grows along with him.
I also cannot stand not to mention Libby's father. He is a great paternal figure in this novel and even funny. His relationship with Libby is amazing and, despite some mistakes in the past, I love how hard he tries to make up for it. Unfortunately, not all family relationships are as great as Libby's in this novel and Holding Up the Universe flips the coin and shows some ugly sides with Jack's and how this affects every member of the family. I felt deeply for him and his younger brother mostly.
What didn't do it for me:
One thing that did make me struggle while reading this book was trying to remember some of the secondary characters. I just could not keep up with them or set them apart despite their descriptions. This led me to a few confusing scenes where remembering who was who would have been super helpful. Besides that, everything was great.
Jennifer Niven's Holding Up the Universe is a wonderful YA Contemporary that approaches important topics such as positive body image, Prosopagnosia conditions, self-identity, family issues, and relationships. It's a roller-coaster ride packed with emotional punches in every up and down, and I know readers will love every second of it.