Title: Holding Up the Universe
Author: Jennifer Niven
Date Started: May 15
Date Finished: May 17
Format: Hardcover from local library
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.
I wanted to like this book. I really did especially because I loved All the Bright Places so much. But even when this book got cute – and it did frequently – I just could not get excited for these two characters. For one thing I didn’t like Libby all that much, and it wasn’t because she was fat. It was because she was stuck on the past. And I get it, you have a traumatic experience like that you’re going to live in a state of fear that it might happen again, but sometimes you just got let it go and move on. Which, I guess, in some ways she was trying to do, but sometimes I felt like she got in her own way. Jack was the same way. All his problems lie on the fact that he doesn’t tell anyone about his condition. Don’t you think things would be easier if you did?
Final Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Not as good as All the Bright Places. I felt that each character held themselves back from being ‘all that they could be.’ And I also didn’t like that ending. To me the whole “I love you” thing was a bit rushed.
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