Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia
Release Date: October 4th, 2016
Genres: Adolescence, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Love & Romance, Young Adult
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.
It didn’t break my emotions
After ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES I was kind of terrified to read this. That book broke me and had me sobbing at some ungodly late hour (FINCH FEELS). HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE doesn’t pack anywhere near as painful a punch. It is a much more positive, uplifting novel with less pain and angst.
Another important message
The core message that both Libby and Jack learn in HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE is something I’ve been struggling to adopt myself. It shows the importance of not only accepting who you are and believing in yourself no matter what society/ the bastards of high school think, but also not changing yourself just to fit in. Let’s not forget that important quote: “YOU ARE WANTED”. HUTU is a book I wish I’d read in early high school, when stupid friendship drama and exclusion started creating the basis of the anxiety and self doubt I continue to struggle with today.
I related to Libby more than I expected to
When I started reading, I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of Libby. I’d heard she was outspoken and a bit pig headed, so I was surprised when I started to not only relate but admire some aspects of her personality. Her struggles with anxiety were the thing I related to most, especially the way she’d curl into herself when she felt uncomfortable and the physical manifestations of an anxiety attack. What I admired about her was how she’s dealt with it over the years, going from a young teen terrified of everything to someone who isn’t afraid to speak up to defend herself and her friends.
I never knew prosopagnosia was a thing
Prosopagnosia is a disability that is completely new to me and it sounds horrendous. Not being able to recognise faces would make it incredibly hard to get by in day to day life with people you’re expected to remember. It’s honestly amazing that Jack (and the real life people in Niven’s life his condition is based on) have managed to deal with it for so long so well.
All the pop culture references!
Usually the contemporaries I read stay away from modern references for some reason, but HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE was chocablock! Supernatural was one of many things mentioned on a regular basis. Some others I missed because I’m not American, but it addd another level of entertainment when I completely understood what the characters were talking about.
Once again, Jennifer Niven has delivered an important message in a well written novel. It’s something that everyone can learn from. I highly recommend everyone give this book a go, especially those who love a good contemporary.