Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

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.

 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

I was really excited when I acquired this copy, because it was the first time I’ve received a book that’s well known and talked about in the book community. I dug into it as soon as I got it, and I’m glad to say, it did not disappoint me.

I really liked the characters. I loved Libby, she was a really strong character. I felt that the issues she faced were tackled well and realistically. She was shown to be a really determined young character who took no crap from people. I initially did not really like Jack, but as the story progressed, I started liking him. There were some really dark and gritty moments, which were quite well done. I really liked the romance in the book, especially the fact that there was no insta-love.Also, while the romance was really cute and well-written, it wasn’t the sole focus of the book, the book was more about finding oneself than falling in love. The writing style was interesting and it kept me hooked.

I did have a few minor issues with it. Jack’s face-blindness was shown to be extremely acute, and he had it from a very young age, yet no one ever found out about it-I felt that was kind of unrealistic. Also, SPOILER ALERT Towards the end, Jack claims that he could identify Libby’s face, even if he couldn’t identify anyone else’s. I don’t know how face-blindness works, but I think that part sort of promoted the trope that love can cure mental illness, which I think is quite a problematic trope.I mean, it was not really obvious or blatant, Jack was not really cured by being with Libby, but I thought it was quite unnecessary to include that. Also, the part where Libby wore a purple bikini, that scene might have been quite empowering, but I also felt it was a bit cliched.END OF SPOILER

Overall, I really liked the book, though I did have a few minor issues with it.I would definitely recommend it.

Rating: 4/5

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