Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
Publication Date: October 4, 2016 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
[Special thanks to the publisher for the review copy!]
From the author of the New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places comes a heart-wrenching story about what it means to see someone—and love someone—for who they truly are.
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 in new and bad-ass ways, 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.
Jennifer Niven delivers another poignant, exhilarating love story about finding that person who sees you for who you are—and seeing them right back.
What I really, REALLY love about Jennifer Niven is how personal her stories are – because it reflects how beautiful she is as a person, inside and out.
Holding Up the Universe is for us. Jennifer’s love for her readers is something the book screams about. It warms my heart every time she posts a video message to her fans – to those who just found her book, and to those who have already become her friends.
It’s amazing – how big her heart is and how much of herself is shared through her books. I cannot forget how her voice broke while she was saying her message during the Bloggers’ Forum for her book signing last May. I wasn’t there, but I watched this video recap AND I JUST REALLY LOVE JENNIFER.
Two characters in Holding Up the Universe are people I know (Hi, Ate Jayvee and Ate Jesselle!), and there’s a special edition of the book with a letter for Filipino fans. The book is simply wonderful – it’s a story of love for yourself, for your friends and family, and for the people who see you with their hearts.
I didn’t cry. Just like how All the Bright Places did not make me cry.
Jennifer Niven did not write a story that made me cry. She wrote a story that made me feel thankful for being alive and still seeing a bright place in every dark corner.
And I think that’s what Jennifer Niven does to me – she writes books that give me hope. And I don’t just love her books. I love her as a person, as a human who’s been through so much and kept going. Her words are powerful because so much of her heart is poured into writing them.
She writes such short chapters with her YA books, and I really like that. Jack and Libby’s story was told in their alternating POVs, presenting different timelines when significant moments happened. It’s hard to stop once you start reading, because you just keep on turning the pages until you realize that so much time has passed and you’re probably late for something already. But it’s worth it – to be lost in a Jennifer Niven book is an honor every reader would want to have.
I’d sing a bookish song for Holding Up the Universe, if I didn’t have a blog tour stop on which I’d have to post my review. I am swimming in an ocean of requirements for school and drowning in my feelings for everything else that’s happening in my life. The past few days weren’t so easy, but I’m glad to have this book as company. I do hope I can squeeze the song in my schedule, because it’s Invisible by Hunter Hayes.
So here’s to everyone who ever felt the need to change just because nobody understood who they are, here’s to everyone who ever felt alone in the company of people who were supposed to be friends, here’s to everyone who ever felt unappreciated for what they do, to everyone who tried and tried and tried – Holding Up the Universe is for you.
Final Rating: 5/5