#TheLateLateReviews – Holding Up The Universe, Jennifer Niven

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28686840Everyone 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.

 

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*ARC provided via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts are entirely my own and in no way biased.*

I do not have enough words for this story. I just love it so much. So very much. The story is absolutely beautiful, the characters so good and the writing flawless. I mean, this book has it all. Total points to Niven for writing such a beautiful story.

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Libby, the female lead, was dubbed America’s Fattest Teen. She had an eating disorder which came into picture after her mom died. She ate away her sorrows and then she was so huge she couldn’t leave her house. They had to cut her out. Then, there was the news and the hate mail and everything went to shit, excuse my French. But, Libby remained headstrong and now, two years later, she’s lost almost 300 pounds and is ready to go back to school for her senior year. In school, she meets Jack, a fellow senior with problems of his own. After a rocky start, they start becoming friends when doing community service as part of detention.

What I like about this story is that though Jack and Libby share their fears with each other, they overcome it own their own. Yes, finding a person who understands them helps, but everything isn’t sunshine and roses because they’ve met that one person. The problems don’t disappear. They’re still there. They’re still gnawing in the back of their mind. And, through the course of the story, Jack and Libby overcome them. Without each other’s help. That sends across a huge message. You don’t need anyone else to fight your battles for you. You shouldn’t need anyone. You are enough.

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That is the best part about the book, but the story in itself is amazing as well. The struggles that these two 18 year olds face and the way they deal with everything is beautifully written. High School can be vicious and this shows how much. People will bully you but it is necessary to not let them affect you. Libby did that. She came on top despite being bullied, despite people putting “you are not wanted” notes in her locker. If she did it, so can we. She’ an amazing character and watching her finally let go of her insecurities is great. She’s making so much progress and it’s great to see throughout the story. I love that even though she’s fat, she doesn’t shy away from dancing and running (as many of us do. I’m fat and  I hate to dance or run in front of people). Not only does she do it, she’s bloody awesome at it. I’m in awe of her. The way she handles herself is truly beautiful. She’s amazing!

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(Excerpt from a letter that Libby passes around her school to everyone.)

Jack is frustrating and annoying in the beginning. He is in an on again off again relationship with a bitchy girl and you wonder why that is because Jack isn’t like her. But, as the story progresses, we find that Jack is with her because he’s trying to find the fourteen year old girl he liked. One that doesn’t exist anymore. Add to the fact that she’s safe. And she’s like a bad habit Jack can’t let go. But, then, Libby comes into the picture and his dwindling feelings for his ex start fading even more. Through the course of the book, he falls for Libby. I absolutely love that he associates Libby with sunshine. It’s the cutest thing ever. He loves his family and even though he isn’t brave enough to tell him suffers from prosopagnosia, he tries his best. Things aren’t always great with is brothers and his father is an asshole, but, they’re his family and he loves them. He’s there for them when it counts. There have always been issues and there’s stuff that’s bad, but there’s also stuff that’s good and he make do – s with what he’s got. His family dynamic is another thing that I love about the book. It shows how you can dislike (even hate) people for things they’ve done but still love them. I think Jack is an amazingly written character. Really good.

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This a story that I would definitely recommend people to read because it’s real and it’s about people who are bullied, who are fat, who have suffered depression. There are many of us out there. Many of us who feel unwanted because of whatever life has thrown at us. It is not true. You matter. What you think matters. You are wanted. It is important that we remember that.

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PS: The quotes are from Holding Up The Universe and the pictures and GIFs are not mine. Thank you, Google.

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Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | YouTube Trailer

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45592By the time I was ten, I had already written numerous songs, a poem for Parker Stevenson (“If there were a Miss America for men, You would surely win”), two autobiographies (All About Me and My Life in Indiana: I Will Never Be Happy Again), a Christmas story, several picture books (which I illustrated myself) featuring the Doodle Bugs from Outer Space, a play about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s sister entitled Blindness Strikes Mary, a series of prison mysteries, a collection of short stories featuring me as the main character (an internationally famous rock star detective), and a partially finished novel about Vietnam. I was also an excellent speller from a very early age.

In 2000, I started writing full-time, and I haven’t stopped… I’ve written nine books (#9 will be out Oct 4, 2016), and when I’m not working on the tenth, I’m writing the screenplay for All the Bright Places, contributing to my web magazine, Germ (www.germmagazine.com), thinking up new books, and dabbling in TV. I am always writing.

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