Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven | REVIEW

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 4th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 400
Format: ARC

LINKS: Good Reads | Amazon | Indigo | Book Depository

Holding Up the Universe

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.


4 Stars

* Received an ARC from Penguin Random House via Indigo for a honest review *

First Line:

I’m not a shitty person, but I’m about to do a shitty thing.


COVER 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟           PLOT 🌟🌟🌟


WRITING 🌟🌟🌟🌟        EMOTION 🌟🌟🌟🌟

It’s about the important things, like the way their face lights up when they laugh, or the way they move as they’re walking towards you, or the way their freckles create a map of the stars.

Holding Up the Universe – Jennifer Niven

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven is contemporary young adult novel that stirred up some controversy before release based off a touchy synopsis and a certain type of character. BUT I am hear to tell you that this book is wonderfully written and very real in the interpretation of an overweight character, as well as a one who is face blind. Here is why:

The Good

Firstly can we stop and appreciate this pretty cover for a moment? I love the simplicity of it all, and the colors used. It represents the story well in terms of Jack being face blind, hence all the blurred circles, but being able to see Libby perfectly, hence the one clear marble. Or was that just me thinking that?

Although the original synopsis stirred up quite a bit of pre-read controversy, I have to say it holds no stance on the overall end results of this book. Holding Up the Universe is about a girl who was once the most overweight teen in America, and one of the most popular boys at school who happens to suffer from Prosopognosia (face blindness).

Niven does a fantastic job at making the characters come to life with real life situations and topics like bullying, fat shaming, and the loss of a parent. You can tell she has done a lot of research on Prosopognosia and was able to explain it perfectly. I thought the characters especially Libby and Jack were well fleshed out and each had their own clear and distinct voice and narrative.

Although there was very little to do plot wise as I felt this was a very character driven story, I was never bored. I think this has to do with Niven’s writing style. She has a way of making you feel things you never thought you had inside you. This time around as it’s her second YA novel, she goes for a more lighter subject matter but is still able you make your insides turn to mush.

This is a beautiful story about being seen in more than one aspect. Libby wants people to look past her weight and see her for who she truly is, which Jack is able to do. And for Jack, he just wants to see and remember people, especially his family members. If there is one thing to take away from Holding Up the Universe, it’s the important message of self worth. Stop looking at your flaws, everyone has them, and start appreciating what you’re good at!

Dear friend, You are not a freak. You are wanted. You are necessary. You are the only you there is. Don’t be afraid to leave the castle. It’s a great big world out there. Love, a fellow reader

Holding Up the Universe – Jennifer Niven


The Bad

Do I think Holding Up the Universe is as strong as her first novel, All the Bright Places? No, I don’t. I think her choice to touch on a more lighter subject matter was a good decision, but it just didn’t resonate with me as much as All the Bright Places did.

Plot wise, there really isn’t one. Did this affect the story in a negative way? No. But had there been more of an end goal here I think it might have made a bigger impact. It’s not to say that I didn’t take a lot away after reading it, I’m just saying there could have been more in my opinion.

Finally the romance. I found it rather dull. I don’t think Libby and Jack are endgame. I would much have preferred if they blossomed more with a strong friendship and appreciation for each other before jumping into a lack luster romance. I guess you can’t win them all.

It’s my experience that the people who are most afraid are the ones who hide behind mean and threatening words.

Holding Up the Universe – Jennifer Niven

I do think there is a lot to take away from this book and I highly recommend everyone to read it. The message of self worth is one worth hearing.

Let me know what you guys thought of Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven! I would love to hear your opinions as well!

Until next time,

Sig 3



Jennifer NivenHolding Up the Universe is Jennifer Niven’s second book for young adult readers, her first being All the Bright Places, but she has written four novels for adults —American Blonde, Becoming Clementine, Velva Jean Learns to Fly, and Velva Jean Learns to Drive — as well as three nonfiction books, The Ice Master, Ada Blackjack, and The Aqua Net Diaries, a memoir about her high school experiences. Although she grew up in Indiana, she now lives with her fiance and literary cats in Los Angeles, which remains her favorite place to wander.

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Jesse Nicholas lives in Toronto, Canada. He is an aspiring writer and one day wishes to have a novel published. Along with writing, Jesse enjoys music, travel, trashy TV, and is an avid reader of anything in the Young Adult and Fantasy/Sci-Fi genres. He is currently posts reviews on the novels he reads on his blog, and spends hours upon hours coming up with ideas for a future stories.

12 thoughts on “Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven | REVIEW”

  1. I adored All the Bright Places, but haven’t read this one yet! It sounds like a really interesting topic, definitely not something I’ve read about before. It is annoying when there isn’t really a plot though, so I’ll keep that warning in mind 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved All The Bright Places and I am keen to check this one out and your review has made me want to read it so see how I feel about it compared to her first novel Great Review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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