Book Review : Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven

Genre : Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Page : 391 pages
Published : 4th April 2016


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.


“Everyone in my life is a stranger, and that includes me.”

Guess how happy am I to read this book after reading through Jennifer Niven – All The Bright Places!

Holding Up The Universe is the book that teach us to love ourselves with the story of two teenagers – Libby and Jack that are struggling to move forward with their not-so-common issues and in the process, finding their true selves.

Libby Strout was once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen” before she managed to lose some weight (not excessively but enough) to make her move freely and that include riding a car – which by no means – going to school. You know, to live her life like any teenage girl should do. Breaking her shells and intend to change her life forever. For the sake of herself and her loving father.

Actually I never thought that Libby’s character is hella strong! I thought that she needs the saving for being absence in the school for years due to her circumstances. How wrong was I. Yes, as you may guess bullying happens for the once “America’s Fattest Teen” and due to her size even though she has already lost certain weight to be able to move. The bullying, the whisper, the stare. Libby is one of the strongest character I know. Yes, she is a paranoid for worrying too much (who don’t though? I am also having endless anxiety and ended up thinking too much) and she do accept the harsh judgement from others.

Here’s what I love about Libby

She never let others affect her. In the beginning she do have her own ways on dealing with her anxiety. However, you could see she made through a fast process in the terms of loving herself and accepting herself as Libby even though the challenge hasn’t been easy on her.

Libby also takes part in helping Jack with his circumstances.

Jack Masselin is a guy with swagger that loves chemistry. He’s popular, got a pretty girlfriend and has friends. People portray his life as a carefree guy with nothing much to think of. Except behind all his almost-perfect image, he has even bigger issues than anybody else he ever met. He can’t recognized faces. No matter how many times he saw the faces, he can’t never bring himself to remember. Even the face of his loved ones.

See how interesting the story could get? Truth to be told, Jack is just another anxiety freak like Libby since nobody knows he can’t recognized faces after all these years he lived. I am loving the plot already and can’t wait to dive myself in the book in which I finished in one sitting. (Seriously, I’m not kidding.)

If you ask me who had it harder, I would say Jack since it really is scary having no-one else notice what you are facing even your own family members. Like you are literally alone. Behind all of his I am a charming guy mask, he is actually a good guy with a kind heart. He hates to pick a fight and disturb others especially those with weaker social status. He, as much as he can will try his best not to be a burden to his family as he loves them a lot. However, due to his circumstances, he need to play it cool. “Better to be the hunter than the hunted. Even if you’re hunting yourself.” That’s what Jack always thought.

Here’s what I love about Jack

Obviously, he’s not a jerk like those popular guys in the story. The moment you start reading the book, whatever it is, you know he has the issue. It’s very rare to read a story about a teenage boy who loves his family very much. When he made mistake, he reflect on it. Even the mistake sometimes are out of his control. He lives a hard life and anxiety never fails to kick in but he kept on going forward. He cares about people and always putting others above himself. What is wrong is he always let others have their way in order to survive.

The thing is, he knows about his issues but he’s not fully accepting his condition.

That is, until he met Libby – a very wise girl and very understanding friend.

Truth to be told, I can relate on Jack mastering the rules of fitting in. Not everyone has the ability on putting themselves in the same skin and shoes. 

If books are mostly about saving a damsel in distress, then this book is all about Libby finding herself and partly helping Jack loving himself. If you read the book, you will realised that Libby turns out to be more confident than Jack. The story moves with a descent flow and it really depict the harsh reality we are living through. The judgement, the conditions we have to offer to be accepted, the insult of those narrow-minded people.

This book also writes about body positivity as you can already guess and teach us that being different means being unique.

There’s nothing more important than accepting yourself as who you are.

This book has plenty of quotes, lines and circumstances to learn from. A very positive book to learn from I must say. However, I do not feel quite a shot after finished reading the book. Get what I mean? The story are amazing, the characters are very cute and lovable, the positivity emits from the book are enormous, but there’s that. There are parts that got me teary and attacked me with feels but personally I feel the whole book lacks feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I love the book a lot but All The Bright Places get me to feel more for the character.

“We’re all weird and damaged in our own way. You’re not the only one.”

Author : Celine

6 thoughts on “Book Review : Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven

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