by Jennifer Niven
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers Release date : October 4th, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Source: The Publisher | Format: ARC
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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.
I received this book for free from The Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Having not read Jennifer’s debut novel, which I plan to remedy soon by the way, I had no idea what to expect heading into Holding Up the Universe. Which in part, I feel is a small blessing. Sometimes, an author’s work just needs to be experienced for the first time without bias of their previous novels, and I feel Holding up the Universe was that book for me.
Holding Up the Universe is important. It’s important because the message behind the story is powerful, and uplifting, and one I honestly feel is a honest portrayal of many, many things. I saw myself in parts of both Libby and Jack, and that’s the point of this story: to be seen. Not only to be seen, but how we see ourselves.
Jennifer’s writing is easy to get lost in. I finished this book within hours, and sitting at around 400 pages speaks for itself. It takes a lot of an author to pack such an emotional punch with their words, and Jennifer does it well. Was it perfect? No. But it doesn’t have to be.
With the POV of both Libby and Jack, we get both sides to the story. Libby, after losing weight returns to high school after being at home for many years. She also struggles with anxiety, and the death of her mother. What I love most about her is how so vibrant and full of life and beautiful she is. While yes, she struggles at times with how people treat her, she doesn’t take crap from anyone. Jack has Prosopagnosia, which is the inability to recognize faces or for short: Face Blindness. We experience his struggles with this disorder/condition, and how/why he acts the way he does. It’s not an excuse – and I loved that he owns that – but sometimes things are slightly easier to understand when you know the cause, ya know?
To me, how their stories intertwine was done really well. I loved the history between them, and how their relationship stars to grow. Again, it’s not without flaws but what story or relationship is?
All in all – I really enjoyed Holding Up the Universe. I love how Jennifer tackles both subjects present, and takes part of her own life and her struggles and puts them into these characters. They’re such amazing characters, and you can’t help but love them both. This is a must read. Run, don’t walk, and get his book ASAP.
Tell me your thoughts
- Have you read Holding Up the Universe? If so, what did you think?
- If not, do you plan to read it?
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