Title: Holding Up the Universe
Author: Jennifer Niven
Release date: 6th October 2016
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.
Firstly, thank you so much to Clare from Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of Holding Up the Universe!
I loved Jennifer Niven’s debut YA book, All the Bright Places, when I read it last year. It was an intensely emotional read and it completely shattered my heart. And I was so excited when I found out that there was going to be a new Jennifer Niven book. I couldn’t wait to see what she’d write next. And I was not disappointed. Holding Up the Universe left my heart feeling so fuzzy and warm – I just loved it.
This book flips between two characters, Jack and Libby, and I loved reading from both perspectives. They are two amazing and truly inspirational characters. Their voices were so unique and strong. I loved seeing them overcome their insecurities and struggles and learn to accept themselves as they are. Jack, trying to understand and cope with not being able to recognize anyone. And Libby, trying to fit into high school life after years of being trapped inside after the death of her mother and experiencing terrible bullying. I loved how Libby went out into the world determined to live her life to the fullest and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself and be happy with herself. I loved how they both came together and helped each other, and how the grew so much as characters throughout the book – I think I’ve definitely found two more characters to add to my favourites!
I really liked the rest of the characters, too, and how they’re all so different. Libby’s friends, and dad, Jack’s brothers and even his friends — they’re all so interesting.
A big theme in this book is bullying, and I loved how Jennifer Niven tackled it. She managed to sensitively, yet honestly portray what it’s like to be bullied, and the effects of that on a person. But she also explored the reasons why people bully, and it was so thought provoking.
I love Niven’s writing. It’s easy to read and keeps you hooked and I just flew through this book. Holding Up the Universe is such a heartwarming read that is sure to pull you into the pages and keep you until you turn the very last one.