Review: Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Review: Holding up the Universe by Jennifer NivenHolding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 4th 2016
Pages: 400
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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.

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.


After reading All the Bright Places I wasn’t sure what to expect for Holding up the Universe. Would it be a sad book? Would I need tissues? The truth is I still don’t know if this is a feel sad book because the characters were so positive and always cheering each other on throughout the book, which in turn made me feel like yeah this book is going to be okay. If they got this you’ve got this. I felt bad for their disability. Though I can’t say that Libby has a disability because it’s more that people don’t accept her because she’s fat and she likes herself as she is even though they continuously tell her that she needs to change. She doesn’t deserve the criticism from anyone who thinks less of her because of her weight. I like that Libby doesn’t let people judge her and then decide that yeah she needs to go on a diet. She doesn’t let them make her feel small. She’s more like screw the diet, which gave me a huge grin on my face.

Libby and Jack don’t give a care of what others thinks of them and that’s what I like about them. They adjust to their problems rather than go into hiding as what most people would probably do if they come into a difficult situation. And I really like that this book faces their problems head on instead of just evading it for the rest of the novel. Every character in this book seems to have some kind of problem. I like how Jack manages to navigate his life. He cannot recognize the faces of the people that he knows and loves, but he has a trick he uses that makes it able to recognize who he’s talking to. None of his friends or family knows of his problems and when they do it was quite intriguing to see their reaction. It was also interesting to see the challenges that present to him. I can’t imagine how scary that must be especially when your mom tells you she’ll pick you up from school but you can’t recognize her when she arrives and mistaken her as a stranger trying to kidnap you instead.

The romance was not something I expected. I think Jack and Libby could be best friends, but I wasn’t sure about them going on dates and stuff. Maybe because of the slow buildup or Libby didn’t see Jack as potential boyfriend material? I don’t know, but it’s one of those romances that just happened when you’re just cruising along and suddenly you’re like what? They’re together? When did that happen? While this is a semi-sad (the kind where you just feel bad for the characters because of their problems) book, there were moments in the book that made me laugh. Which is surprising because I didn’t expect that. There were so many unexpected things in this novel that it made for a interesting read.


Author: Jackie

6 Replies to “Review: Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven”

  1. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve read some disappointing reviews for this book, so I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it! I like how empowered the characters are despite the various difficulties they are struggling with- this book definitely sounds like it has potential!

  2. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one! I liked what you said about the characters not caring what others thought of them and being strong through that. The romance I thought was unnecessary as well too.

  3. I am reading All the Bright Places right now. It is okay. Ha ha. I still want to read this book because the storyline sounds fabulous. Thanks for sharing your review. 🙂

  4. Oh my god, this book looks soo beautiful and sounds very interesting. A lot of people said it’s such a fantastic read but unfortunately my national libraries don’t have it yet… And I’m dying here reading all the reviews like.. “wait for me please ?”

  5. I loved All the Bright Places and have this on my holiday wish list. I am not sure how I will feel about the romance. Glad you still enjoyed it. Great review!!

  6. This sounds wonderful — I have to look up the other works by this author.

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