Title: Holding Up The Universe
Author: Jennifer Niven
Genre: YA contemporary
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.
This book was really good!
Having Libby as a main character was very different. For once, the girl wasn’t just depressed or something. I’ve never read of such a case of overweight, and reading it in a book through the main character was something new! Libby was an interesting character—she’s bold but also struggles with the inferiority feelings from being over-weight, she’s a girl who has been through hard times after losing her mom and ate so much that she had to be cut out of her house(!), and she’s just another teen trying to find a place in this world to fit in. In this case, it’s high school.
I’ve heard of face-blindedness, never knew it was called “prosopagnasia” in formal terms, but reading about it gave me more of an insight into it. Jack is the popular, charm-his-way-out-of-anything guy who is in an on-and-off relationship with the popular, hot girl Caroline. What I like was that he genuinely liked her, before she changed, and kept trying to bring the old girl back. As no one knows about his condition, he just tries to apologise and wade through any trip-ups and mistakes.
One thing I really liked was that many characters were nerds and readers. Even Caroline was a nerd! And many evolved from that into different personalities.
Libby and Jack’s dynamic grew, through getting to know each other and I loved that. I also really liked the ending. One thing, though-the book ended right after they got together for reals and kissed. This happens a lot in YA contemporary books, and every time I read another book with such an ending, I get more annoyed. Getting together and the beginning, sure, but I also want some scenes or proof that their relationship actually works! I want to glimpse them as a couple. In this book, the ending was pretty open and I just kept thinking of scenarios or situations/instances in the future, and I didn’t know how it would work!
All in all, the whole story was made pretty different because of these factors and I really enjoyed reading it!
I read it a while back and I didn’t plan on writing a review (hence the heavily unstructured small one), but I want to say, do read it! I totally recommend it.