Review: Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

December 5, 2016 Review, YA 0

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Holding up the Universe by Jennifer NivenHolding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
Published by Random House Children's Books on October 4th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Depression, Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Themes, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Libby Strout, once dubbed as “America’s Fattest Teen," is ready to return to public school.  Several years ago, her health was in risk; her weight was so high that paramedics had to cut into her house and remove her from her second-story bedroom.  Although she is still overweight, Libby has worked on her weight over the past few years and now has a support system behind her to help her deal with the cause of her weight loss: her mother's death. She's ready to face her peers, but are they ready for her?

Jack Masselin seemingly has it all. He has a beautiful girlfriend, a stunning head of hair, and is friends with most everyone. He has an insane ability to fit in with any crowd.  What others don't know is Jack suffers from prosopagnosia, or face blindness.  He cannot recognize the faces of those around him, including his family.  His charm and his sense of humor help him get by.

Libby and Jack meet as a result of a horrible high school prank, both of them ending up in group counseling. At first, Libby despises Jack and everything he represents. After a while, however, the boundaries that divide them crumble away and Libby and Jack soon discover that they can be themselves when they are together. Free of judgement, they see one another for the unique individuals they are, regardless of the labels society has placed on them.

Since November, I have been in the biggest of book slumps.  I have no problem losing myself in an audio book on my commute to work but when it comes to sitting down and reading a book, I’m hopeless. I cannot concentrate. Until this book.

I instantly bonded with Libby: we shared the same favorite books, she loves Supernatural, and I love her self-esteem and humor. For a teen who has been dealt a tremendous amount of loss in life, she’s a survivor. As an adult, I have a strong sense of self-image when it comes to my weight, but I don’t know that I wouldn’t be able to deal with it in high school.  High school was difficult enough as it is, and I was a fairly typical teen.

I felt tremendous sympathy for Jack. I can’t even imagine suffering from face blindness, not recognizing the faces of the ones you love.  Add to the fact that he alone kept this secret; it’s quite a toll to place on a person.

The relationship that these two had together was wonderful; while they didn’t “need” one another to attain happiness, they each served as an impetus to strive for more, each relying upon one another for strength and support.

All in all, this was a tremendous read; I’m thrilled that I was able to fit this one in before the year ended. There’s nothing bad I can say about this book, other than it had to end. Highly, highly recommended.

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