Hello there! I hope you’ve had a good weekend so far. I’m busy in Chicago and I’ll be getting home tonight at a decent time (hopefully). Anyway, I’ll be reviewing Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven. Niven debuted in YA with All the Bright Places and I loved it soooo much. I met her twice last May when I went to BookCon and she is one of the loveliest people I know. (Shoutout to her for reviving that wonderful word.) If you haven’t read ATBP yet I definitely recommend you do.
Here’s what you need to know about the book:
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.
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release date: 4 October 2016
Edition: Hardcover, US Page #: 391 My rating:4/5 stars
I enjoyed this book – not as much as All the Bright Places, but I liked it in its own right. The entire time I read the book I found myself both frustrated and in love with the characters. I was invested in seeing what would happen to them, and I liked how it alternated the chapters.
I was not as emotionally wrecked after this book like I was for All the Bright Places. Instead I felt hopeful and happy with the way things ended for the characters. Jack and Libby are adorable and I definitely squealed (out loud) reading some parts of the novel. This book gave me happy, mushy feels a lot and my inner romantic was in heaven.
One of my favorite parts of the book was how it was structured. The alternating perspectives along with the small background chapters came together nicely. They portrayed each character beautifully and I could really understand them both. I loved seeing Jack and Libby’s relationship unfold from both sides! It was like being friends with the guy and gal in a flirtationship and watching them get together. I am just a big mushy romantic sometimes so this definitely made me smile a lot.
The main themes throughout the book address mental health. I personally cannot speak on the struggles of mental health, but I sympathize with people who do. I always enjoy reading different books with characters that have mental health or talk about it in a way that is accurate and different. I commend Niven for writing not one, but two great novels that deal with this sensitive subject. Getting different perspectives out there are always a great way to build empathy between people. It also gives people like me a better idea of what it’s like for people who deal with mental health issues (along with other ones about race, religion, identity, etc.).