Holding Up The UniverseTitle: Holding Up the Universe

Author: Jennifer Niven

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Books

The Blurb

From the author of the New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places comes a heart-wrenching story about what it means to see someone – and love someone – for who they truly are. 

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 see who she really is. Since her mum’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.

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 art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a 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 own 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, Libby and Jack are both angry, 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.

The Review

I really loved Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places yet it took me an awfully long time after the release of Holding Up the Universe to pick it up and start reading. What a fool I have been. If at all possible I enjoyed Holding Up the Universe more than Niven’s debut.

The story revolves around Jack and Libby – two teenagers who have their own battles to face. Libby is a big girl. She was formerly known as America’s Fattest Teenager. Jack has a rare medical condition called Prosopagnosia which renders him unable to recognise faces.

Through both of their difficulties they manage to find comfort in each other but this is high school and we all know that school kids can be cruel. This is a story of young love, coming of age and finding yourself.

What I love about YA fiction is that it is so diverse that it presents the reader with something that they may have never heard of. I have never heard of Prosopagnosia so I am almost certain that the students I work with will not have done either. They will have heard of obesity and may have even made cruel comments towards people with weight issues. It is books like Holding Up the Universe that help create empathy and highlight the differences in people. Holding up the Universe is the kid of books that young people need to read.

I can genuinely say that Holding Up the Universe is one of the most impactful books that I have read in 2017.

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven is available now.

For more information regarding Jennifer Niven (@jenniferniven) please visit www.jenniferniven.com.

For more information regarding Penguin Books (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

4 Stars

The Blurb

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting down the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the ‘natural wonders’ of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself – a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?

The Review

What can you say about All the Bright Places? Sometimes a book comes along that is so beautiful that describing it defies words. However, I shall give it a try.

All the Bright Places is a classic boy meets girl book, however, it has a contemporary twist. Imagine, just like Violet did, meeting the boy you are destined to fall in love with when you are both contemplating suicide by jumping off a building. This is not exactly the norm. Consequently, what it does highlight is the ever growing numbers of teen suicide and also how difficult it is in a high school environment (or any environment really) to ask for help when you are struggling mentally or emotionally.

What is beautiful about Violet and Finch’s relationship is that it shows how help and comfort can come from the most unlikely of places. It also shows the cruelty of school children. If only one person reads this book and changes the negative way that they act towards another person then Jennifer Niven has done a remarkable job.

When reading All the Bright Places you will laugh, you will cry but most of all you will fall in love with a beautiful friendship that is formed in the face of adversity.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is available now.

You can follow Jennifer Niven (@jenniferniven) on Twitter.

All the Bright Places