Title: Holding up the Universe
Author: Jennifer Niven
Publication: 6th October 2016 by Penguin
Genre: YA Fiction.
ARC Provided by Penguin in exchange for an honest review.
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 is a story about a girl who had weight issues and a boy who is face-blind. Libby was strong as she managed to deal with a huge amount of bullying. She was bubbly and sassy and willing to stand up for herself. As a character I really liked her. Jack was popular kid who bowed to peer pressure and, due to him dealing with face-blindness,but not wanting anyone else to know, could be a jerk.
I didn’t really go into this with high hopes as I wasn’t overly fussed with All the Bright Places. Part of my issue with AtBP was that the characters felt like they were conditions that were given human form as a way of trying to education the audiences. It felt very similar in this book to not to the same extent. The two teens are characterized by their weight and prosopagnosia (the inability to recognize faces) because it is a important element of the book, but I feel Libby was a lot more rounded as a character.
I was really frustrated by the ending. I feel like the message of the story is to love yourself, yet the happy ending is that the handsome guy falls in love with the once overweight girl. I personally wanted the characters to come to realisations without the need of love.
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book for the plot but I would for it’s characters.