Holding up the universe by Jennifer Niven

“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.”

holing-up-the-universe-cover

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Basically Jennifer Niven has outdone herself another time. All the bright places, her other novel, was one of my favorite reads in 2015 and this one was definitely better and it gradually took its place in my top 5 reads of this year.

This book follows the story of two main characters Libby Strout and Jack Masselin. Each one of them have their own secrets and struggling and want to fit in where they are. Being in high school without having any struggle is hard enough for many students fearing that they may be criticized  so with these 2 fit in became harder.

Like her first book when she highlighted the problem of bipolar and mental illness, in this book Jennifer Niven shed the light on two other issues that can come across our every daily life : Prosopagnosia and being overweight. 

Jack discovered all by himself, from a young age, that he wasn’t able to recognize the faces from the people around him. Not being able to recognize the faces of the people is really frustrating since he wants to be able to remember everyone. He has to meet his friends and family every day like if they are strangers. He uses identifiers to be able to recognize the people close to him. I never heard of prosopagnosia before. When I read about it in the book, it seemed like the author made big researches about it to be able to deliver it to her readers in an easy way so that they can understand it

Libby, on the other hand, was facing another struggle. Being overweight. When her mom died suddenly she started eating and eating till the day she became really overweight and they had to take her out of her home by a crane when people wanted to take down the house. Since that event, she was known as the fattest teen in America. Eating became her coping mechanism. Several years later, after dropping a large number of weight and being followed by therapists, she came back to her old school. Even with dropping lot of weight, she was still being criticized and her classmates made fun of her because she was still big. But after seeing her struggle to fit again, she was trying to believe in herself. She knows she came a long way and wants to be recognized. She made friends again, she started to dance with her friends and most importantly she started to stood up for herself. After being tormented at the beginning of the book about being bullied and after being doubtful, Libby became this optimistic girl who knew that she can achieve anything she want. I connected with her character the most. Being overweight can never be easy on the person. No one knows the reasons of why someone became the way he is. This person never feels good about himself especially when he’s always criticized by everyone … their glares, their whispers, the way they tell him that he should drop his weight. If someone made his mind, he can do whatever he wants and especially dropping a large number of his weight. Nothing is impossible and proving people wrong can be priceless.

When Jack and Libby met it’s like their world collided together. They had to meet so that they can understand each other. They helped each other with their own problems and struggles when no one was there to understand them the way they wanted. Their relationship wasn’t forced at all like someone would say.

Niven knows how to be realistic in her novels while writing about problems that any one can encounter. She delivers her message in a simple way that you can’t help but read the book in one sitting and knowing about what other people can go through.

“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”

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