Book Reviews

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven


After reading and loving ‘All the Bright Places’ by Jennifer Niven, I was on the lookout for a new book from her. After what seems like forever we finally have another book to read and its absolutely amazing!!

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 counselling 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 don’t think that the description for this book does the book justice, but then again with all the different emotions I experienced while reading this, its very difficult to write my review and tell you how brilliant ‘Holding Up the Universe’ is in words.

Jennifer Niven has created two beautifully developed characters in Jack and Libby, they are both relatable in their own ways and very interesting. I had never heard of the condition Prosopagnosia (face blindness) before and I found it really interesting and very original to read about. The trouble Jack had to go through remembering people by the way they walked, talked or dressed was described wonderfully in the book and you really understood the effort he had to go through everyday in secret. Every time Jack couldn’t recognise someone I felt so helpless, I wanted to be there with him to help him remember.

Libby is an optimistic, fearless and refreshing character, she knows that she is a large girl but that wont stop her trying anything. I liked the way in which that Libby was comfortable in the body she was in and she wanted to live her life to the fullest no matter what size she was. Every time Libby stuck up for herself to  bullies I had a massive grin of my face because some of the ways in which she was bullied did make me very sad.

Another reason I love this book so much is Jennifer Niven’s writing. You can tell that Jennifer Niven spent loads of time researching the characters and the story because the writing is descriptive and full of information. I am a fan of Jennifer Niven’s writing style because she writes about what we want to read about, there is no filler or long descriptions of things we are not interested in. The writing brings the characters and their problems to life which makes you feel so many different emotions that at times you can not hold back the tears any longer.

I liked the way the book was written with each character having alternate chapters and going back in the past to events before the book was set. This way definitely made it a quick read, I managed to start and finish the whole book in a few hours, once I started I didn’t want to put it down. Every time I went to put the book down to do something else my mind would always be on Jack and Libby, in the end I decided to sit down and not move until I had finished. Whole reading this I will admit that I did shed a few tears, some where happy tears and some were sad, I am sure that by the end you will do the same.

I would recommend this book to anyone that read and loved All the Bright Places. Also to anyone who wants to read a book that will break your heart many times and make you go through a range of emotions you never thought you had, then you should definitely pick up Holding Up the Universe.


I rate this book 5/5 stars

***I was sent a copy of this book by the Publisher to review. Everything in this review is my own honest opinions.***


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