Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
Published October 4th 2016
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.
This book is fantastic. It’s real, honest, and extremely refreshing. I honestly don’t know why so many people (who haven’t even read the book) are hating on it.
This book is about a fat girl and a boy who hides his mental illness. It has characters that are so relatable and self aware. And first off, “fat” isn’t an offensive word. It’s a descriptive word. And there’s nothing wrong with it. Second, I personally didn’t think this book romanized mental illness. That’s a personal opinion but I didn’t see what some people are complaining about. So many people are complaining about this book after just reading the synopsis. If they would have just read the book, they’d see how stupid they look because they’re judging a book before they’ve even read it. Everything “offensive” makes sense if you read the book.
What I loved about this book is how Libby is so self aware and is in the process of growing as a person. I would have really liked if the book would have been just about her and her journey. And even though I’ve never experienced a lot of the things Libby went through (I was home schooled kindergarten through high school though so I related to her on that), I felt like I could relate to her and understand her. I didn’t quite connect with Jack on the same level but I did really like him. I’ve often read about characters with mental illness’ that had been diagnosed and had people around them who knew. But Jack was alone with his mental illness and I think his character showed how some people can hide their mental illness and pretend everything is okay and no one knows otherwise. I think there’s a really great take away from both characters and they offer something to the reader that I haven’t seen in any other books.
I did find the plot to be a little slow and maybe a bit boring at times but I didn’t think it was too off putting.
Overall, I loved the characters in this book and I think they are very relatable. I’ve never read a book about characters like Libby and Jack before and I really appreciate how through these two characters, other people might be able to see a new perspective that isn’t often heard. I wouldn’t recommend this book for the plot but I would recommend it for the characters.