Holding Up the Universe

Reviewed by Melanie on June 26, 2017


To begin this review, I should first state that I may be a bit biased, because I love Jennifer Niven, and All The Bright Places is easily in my top ten favorite books. I tell every one to read it, and it is one of the books I’ll really push for someone to read, even if they aren’t readers. That being said, I walked into Holding Up the Universe with high hopes, I wasn’t disappointed.

Like All The Bright Places, Holding Up the Universe is told from two different points of view. Libby Strout, who had to be physically cut out of her house, and Jack Masselin, very popular, but can’t recognize faces…not even those of his family. This very odd couple begin the book as enemies, and quickly realize that for most people, there is more than meets the eye.

As usual, I don’t want to spoil the book and tried not to reveal anything that isn’t brought up in the “about” section at GoodReads. I loved this story. I’d never heard of Jack’s condition, but it makes sense. Watching the way that he and Libby grow not just together, but as individuals is enough to make anyone’s heart melt.

Libby and Jack both grow individually, understanding themselves and each other better than they thought possible. Libby, finally comfortable in her own skin helps Jack not only admit his condition, but gives him the courage to tell those that he loves. Jack makes Libby see that it’s not the outside (especially if you can’t remember faces), but the inside that counts. I think we see this happening for Jack long before he does when he realizes he’s not recognizing her size and stature, but her spirit.

This book will make you laugh, and sit on the verge of tears for chapters, waiting to see how things work out. Like All The Bright Places, this is one that I want to re-read a few times.

Holding Up the Universe Book Cover Holding Up the Universe
Jennifer Niven
Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction
Random House
October 4, 2016

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.

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