This is a book about so many things. A book aimed at a teenage audience about teenagers. School sucks, there’s homework to be done, parents don’t understand you. If this book is about one thing, it’s about labels. Let me introduce you to our first narrator: Libby Strout. She was once labelled “America’s Fattest Teen.” Our second narrator is Jack Masselin. He’s one of the “coolest boys in school”. He also has Prosopagnosia. (That’s face blindness to you and me, he doesn’t recognise faces.) Holding Up the Universe explores the human beings behind the labels. Jennifer Niven has done it again.
Her first book was a masterpiece that left most readers in tears. When I started reading this book I was scared. I wasn’t ready to have my heart broken again. This is a beautifully told book with a much more uplifting beginning, middle and end. Maybe not an uplifting beginning. The book opens with Libby’s first day at school after several years at home trying to lose weight. Jack is trying to keep up appearances while struggling to keep track of what is happening around him. He may not have kissed his girlfriend one night. This certainly isn’t a pity party, its striving and struggling to take each day as they come. They are both brave.
These two voices are unique and the author just gets it. She writes with humour, warmth and maturity. A diamond in the rough of teen fiction. This book is life affirming. Forget everything any one has ever said about you. You are more than your label. I like to think there are multiple universes but they are inside you. I have the label of the book worm which I love but I also label myself fat and negative which I don’t love. We need to embrace Jack’s way of seeing things. He doesn’t recognise faces which means he has no memory or attachments to your face. We should look at people afresh every time we see them, they not be themselves today. They might be worse but chances are we’re better than we were yesterday because we grow and learn and love. This is what Jennifer Niven does to me! To everyone! She changes perceptions. Thank you.
Watch my video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0v7LnLBKMyI