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 see who she really is. Since her mum’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. 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 art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a 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 own 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, Libby and Jack are both angry, 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.
Holding Up The Universe is one of those books that just blows you away. I genuinely felt that I was stuck in the worst book rut known to woman-kind, until I started reading this book. Everything else I started bored me, and I just felt like I couldn’t get properly into anything, until Holding Up The Universe. This is the kick-ass of kick-ass books. Which is weird, considering that when it was announced, the internet blew up with nasty comments, with people saying it was offensive to fat people (?????) and they weren’t going to read it, etc. Those people are missing out, as this isn’t a fat-shaming book. It’s fat-positive, and I would go as far to say it’s more fat positive than Dumplin’, which everyone raves about, but which I didn’t think was worth all the hype.
Holding Up The Universe is one of those books that has you fist-pumping at least once a chapter, because between them, Libby and Jack are pretty freaking awesome. I genuinely admired Libby, because I’m overweight, and I hate it, but she loves how she looks now, and sure she’s lost some weight, but that was because her health needed it, she needed to lose weight to survive. And now she’s at a weight she’s happy with, and sure she’s still overweight, and sure, there are still awful, horrific, mean people who try to fat-shame her but Libby likes the way she looks and that’s SUCH an important message. Sometimes being fat isn’t about being lazy, unhealthy, unfit, as proven when Libby chases a jerk down, in one of my favourite scenes. She kicks ass – literally, just ask Jack. Jack, on the other hand, can be a bit of a jerk, and he confesses to being a jerk (which doesn’t make it right, but hey, he’s honest) but Jack also has face blindness, which I’ve never even heard of until now, which means that literally every face he sees, he forgets when he looks away. Everyone is a stranger to him, even his own family, and that’s scary. We take for granted the fact we can recognise people or things without a second thought and yet Jack has to pick out identifiers to tell him who people are (and even that doesn’t always go to plan).
I loved everything about this book. Libby and Jack’s voices were so real to me, so honest, so amazing. I laughed, I wanted to cry, I wanted to roar, I wanted to be part of Libby’s group of friends (because, yes, Caroline, Libby has friends, as if fat people can’t have friends) and maybe even join her when she’s dancing (although that’s debatable as I CANNOT DANCE). Holding Up The Universe just spoke to me on all the levels. It was about two people genuinely liking each other for who they were, and that’s mind-blowing. Libby is one of the coolest MCs you’ll ever meet. She’s fearless. She’s like a warrior and I bow down to her greatness and her sass. And apart from the few times he acted like a douche, I did love Jack. His honesty, how he faced his face blindness head on, I just couldn’t imagine not being able to recognise people, that would scare me.
This is an amazing book. Seriously, ignore all the idiots shaming this book, because this book is amazing and special. Libby is one of the strongest MCs I’ve come across in ages, and Jack is relatively sweet when he puts his mind to it, and also his little brother Dusty is ADORABLE. Like for reals. I haven’t read All The Bright Places (yet!) but I know Jennifer is a very special writer, with a long career ahead of her if Holding Up The Universe is anything to go on because I absolutely loved it. I need a real copy of this book for my shelf, I loved it that much.