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.
Before HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE, I hadn’t read any of Jennifer Niven’s writing. So when I went into this book thing that I would get a nice, fluffy contemporary read, I was wrong. Holding Up the Universe deals with serious, tough subjects in a way that is so heartfelt, so beautiful.
After reading this book I began reading through early reviews from others. I was shocked to see so much controversy coming from those who had yet to even read the book. So first I want to respond to that.
Yes, Libby is overweight. And insanely likable. And relatable. Yes, Jack has face-blindness. No, it's not presented as cute. It's not a silly stumbling block that will be overcome by true love. The way Niven has written the issues these characters deal with made me ache for them. So to all of the people who have not read this book but are ready to take offense, please shut up. Jennifer Niven deserves respect, this book deserves respect, and it definitely deserves to be read. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I love the way that weight was addressed in this book. And the message it presents can apply to anyone, absolutely anyone, no matter what you look like. What Niven is trying to say with this book is important and beautiful. No joke, one of the main reasons I wore a bikini this summer was because of this book. So I feel like Holding Up the Universe has gotten a lot of hate already, when it doesn’t deserve to be judged by a poorly worded synopsis. It should be read and then judged.
Aside from the controversy surrounding it for the past few months, I really enjoyed Holding Up the Universe. I feel like I’ve already covered the biggest reason why, it’s resonating themes. It was also very easy to read. Niven’s writing really flows. I sat down to read a couple chapters and next thing I knew I was 200 pages in. So I decided I might as well keep reading and ended up finishing it in one sitting.
The romance of the story wasn’t perfect for me. It was very cutesy and cheesy at moments. I preferred Libby and Jack’s relationship outside of their love story. I felt that they were both very strong characters, but the romance just didn’t cut it for me.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE. It is a book I’ll read again? Probably not. But I’m glad I did pick it up, it definitely resonated with me in some ways, and I have been recommending it now for months. It’s a beautiful story with an even more beautiful message and characters.