Book Review

Book Review: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven-5 Stars


I don’t even know where to start with this book. It’s a raw, real, unfiltered story of bullying in high school.  We have Libby Strout, an overweight girl who was once called “America’s Fattest Teen” after she had a panic attack and had to be cut out of her house because she was so overweight. Her mother died unexpectedly when she was young and she began to gain so much weight she became housebound. Recently, she’s lost weight, became more confident, and is ready to go back to public school. And there’s Jack, Mr. Popular, full of swagger, occasionally a jerk, who has prosopagnosia- a brain condition that prevents him from recognizing faces, even his self and his own family. He has to rely on identifiers-hair, pointy chin, freckles, moles, decipher people, and even then he can’t always be 100% sure who he’s looking at.

When an bullying incident brings these two together, they are forced to spend time together in an after school program. Slowly, Libby and Jack begin to really see themselves and each other, beyond the weight, the brain condition, the bullying, the anxiety, and self-consciousness.

Libby is awesome- she’s strong and confident, yet she still suffers from anxiety due to her weight and the bullying she endures. Jack is dealing with a problem at home as well as keeping his condition a secret, so to compensate, he can be mean at times, even though he knows it’s wrong, I guess he doesn’t want to be judged for having an illness. Not really a main character, but I loved Jack’s younger brother Dusty. He was so sweet, honest, and downright precious.

The developing friendships and romance was so wonderful, and I love the message this book brings. This is a novel of hope and learning to love yourself. Highly recommend.


Favorite quotes:

“It’s my job in life, apparently, to teach gawking, laughing girls lessons about kindness.” Libby

“People are shitty for a lot of reasons. Sometimes they’re just shitty people. Sometimes people have been shitty to them and, even though they don’t realize it, they take that shitty upbringing and go out into the world and treat others the same way. Sometimes they’re shitty because they’re afraid. Sometimes they choose to be shitty to others before others can be shitty to them. So it’s like self-defensiveness shittiness.” Jack to Dusty


2 thoughts on “Book Review: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven-5 Stars”

  1. Great review! I loved this book too, though I did find some flaws in it. Libby was my favourite character – I agree that she’s strong and confident. And that quote from Jack to Dusty that you’ve included is just great. ❤

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