ARC Review: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Title: Holding Up the Universe
Author: Jennifer Niven
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 4th, 2016
Pages: Kindle, 400 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars

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 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 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.

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

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Last year, I read All the Bright Places and it completely shattered my mind. Immediately, I knew it was one of those important books that everyone has to read at least once in their lives. So when I learned that Jennifer Niven was coming up with a new book, I immediately wanted to get my hands on it. Sadly, and most likely because of my high expectations, I did not enjoy this book as much as I thought I would.

Holding Up the Universe is no doubt another important book. The message that it wants to get across is beautiful. I love how Niven always chooses topics that are unique and seldom talked about. In this case, Jennifer Niven chose to talk about Libby Stout, a girl who once was called "America's Fattest Teen," and Jack Masselin, a guy who has prosopagnosia. I would like to say that this book is cliché because after all, it's a love story of a fat girl and a guy who is part of the in-crowd, but really, it's anything but cliché because the story runs deeper than that.

Libby Stout is not portrayed as some shy girl who just lets people talk sh*t about her because she's fat. Yes, she had moments when she felt down and wanted to give up, but she doesn't take crap from people. She fought back, punched people in the face, and stood up for herself and others. She even gave most people a lesson, and I definitely learned from it too. Although she lost her mom at a young age, she is close with her dad and her therapist, Rachel.

"Life is too short to judge others. It is not our job to tell someone what they feel or who they are. Why not spend some time on yourself instead? I don't know you, but I can guarantee you have some issues you can work on. And maybe you've got a fit body and a perfect face, but I'll wager you've got insecurities too, ones that would keep you from stripping down to a purple bikini and modeling it in front of everyone. As for the rest of you, remember this: YOU ARE WANTED. Big, small, tall, short, pretty, plain, friendly, shy. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, not even yourself."

Jack Masselin, on the other hands, acts like a douchebag. You know, the typical "cool kid" who doesn't care about anyone else. However, the truth is, Jack has to act this way because he can't recognize faces. And no one knows, not even his family, because he can't even admit it to himself. But underneath all that, Jack has a big heart and the courage to set things straight when he has done wrong. He loves his family deeply, and he stands up for what he believes in.

Although my mind gets how amazing this book is, I couldn't really connect with the characters. This is why even though the book is technically good, I couldn't give the book more than 3 stars. I didn't connect with the characters nor with the story. It took me a really long time to finish this book because I just didn't feel the urge to finish it. For the most part, I was convincing myself to finish it. There's nothing wrong with this book at all, but I just really couldn't connect. I know a lot of people might judge me for this, but this book just wasn't for me. Ultimately, I am still a Jennifer Niven fan and I would still read whatever she comes up with next, but I just didn't click with this one.

couldn't-connect stars

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