Title: Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven
Publisher: Penguin Books
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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.
It’s been a while since a Young Adult blew me away the way Holding Up The Universe did. It’s crazy how I could relate to so many pages in the book to an extent where I have to put down the book to actually breathe.
Libby- the girl who was rescued from her house because she was too fat.
Jack- the swagger who has a condition of prosopagnosia, in English it basically means face blindness.
Needless to say, I could see so much of myself in Libby. I could almost follow her thoughts and her fears. They seem stupid, but actually these fears kind of rule her life, just as it rules mine.
Not everyone could be bothered of something so trivial. I mean, if I have to catch a flight tomorrow, I’m almost certain I won’t be able to sleep tonight worrying if I can fit my giant buttocks in those tiny plane seats. I would worry if my bottom would overflow to the next seat and annoy the hell out the passenger next to me. Let’s not forget how I have to hold my breath so I can buckle up in the plane seats. It’s not easy guys, you have to be me to experience my anxiety.
Libby also has other worries. But, she’s determined to overcome them all by twirling her way to Damsels and try as much as she can to be a normal high schooler. Well, that’s almost impossible isn’t it? Who can possible look past her physical attributes and actually value her inner beauty? People have to give her a hard time and things took a horrible turn when Jack rode her like a bull.
Jack on the other hand has his own worries. Imagine staring into a mirror and you don’t know if it’s you. Imagine walking into a room and calling someone you can’t recognize as Mom and Dad? It’s tough being Jack but he has a method to keep living his bizarre life.
This book is told in two perspectives and Libby’s is my favorite. Thank you Jennifer for writing such a raw and honest character. Libby isn’t confident but God, she tries so hard to fit it. The more she tries not to attract any attention, the more she becomes a target. My heart just aches for her. That girl just want to live her life, leave her alone!
Libby is still dealing with the passing of her mother, and there are couple of pages in this book that has utterly crushed me.
“Loss does that, hits you out of the blue. You can be in the car or in class or at the movies, laughing and have a good time, and suddenly it’s as if someone has reached directly into the wound and squeezed with all their might.” – Holding Up The Universe, Page 155
The pain of losing my father is still fresh in my mind. I can’t get over it and I don’t think I ever will. He was such an important part of my life. He encouraged me, spoke highly of me wherever he went and provided endless positive vibes which I needed. Libby in this case, had a mom like my dad too and I could almost feel the clench and unclench of her heart whenever she grieved over her mother.
People often quick to judge. If you’re fat, you are lazy. It’s as though you’re handing people license to bash you up because you’re not perfect. Who gives these people the right to judge anyway? Why are these people messing with other’s self esteem? Who are they to evaluate our existence in this world?
“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, Page 380
Sure, you may go ahead and ask me, why don’t you strive to look better? Lose some of the weight?
“I may lose more weight. I may not. But why should what I weigh affect other people? I mean, unless I’m sitting on on them, who cares?” – Holding Up The Universe, Page 310
The romance is this book reminded me of the romance in Eleanor & Park. You can’t help but to feel attracted to Jack for his unwavering charm. However, my biggest problem in this book is remembering Jack has prosopagnosia. He has this huge personality and great hair and not to mention, he handles his condition so well, I honestly feel like it’s impossible to feel sorry for him. I wish there’s more pages dedicated to his pov, so we could understand better of his condition.
“This is what I know about loss. It doesn’t get better. You just get (somewhat) used to it.” – Holding Up The Universe, Page 374
This book worth picking up guys, it tugs at your heartstrings and teaches you important life lessons. So glad I picked this up, hopefully you will too. That’s all guys, till the next post, ta-ta!!