Thursday 6 October 2016

Review: Holding up The Universe by Jennifer Niven

Holding Up the Universe
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 recognise 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 counselling 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.
Jennifer Niven delivers another poignant, exhilarating love story about finding that person who sees you for who you are—and seeing them right back.

Shona's review 5 of 5 stars

I devoured this book in a single afternoon, completely captivated by it that I could barely drag myself away to make dinner. And now that its over I feel somewhat bereft. This book was so beautifully written that reading it was effortless.

There came a point in this book and I thought for sure this was going to be one of those "the guy saves the fat girl" kind of thing, perhaps even one of those "they both save each other", but the truth of the matter is Jack and Libby didn't save each other, they didn't need saving, they just learned to see themselves properly and in doing so truly saw each other. Or perhaps they truly saw each other before they truly saw themselves. Either way it was beautiful.

This review is actually one of the hardest reviews I've ever had to write, considering how I felt whilst reading you would think I could find the words, but I cant, words fail me at this point. So perhaps i should settle for that, feelings... I felt immense sadness for Libby, sadness for the things that kept her locked up at home, sadness for thinking that she may one day just die just like her mom did, sadness for being afraid to live her life. I felt sadness for Jack, for never truly knowing who he was talking to, for always worrying that people might find out about his condition and single him out. I felt joy with Libby when she got up and danced for the Damsels, I felt immensely proud of her for standing up for hersel, not just then but during her PE lesson. But most of all I felt loved. And wanted.

This is the first time I have read anything written by Niven, but I'm keen to read more of her work.

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