Book Review: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, website like this 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.


Young Adult, Contemporary


400 pages

Part of a Series?:


Release Date: 

October 4th, 2016

You Can Find the Book At:



Barnes hand Noble

Book Depository


Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

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, 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.

My Review:


I think that Jennifer Niven might be one of the best young adult authors out there right now. She’s emotional and she’s captivating and she’s real and its so easy to connect with her and her writing and her characters. She has released only two books so far and yet she has become one of my favorite authors. I think it takes a lot for an author to create an emotional connection between the reader and the book, especially one that sticks and stays and doesn’t disappear when you read another book. I read this book a few months ago, as an advanced copy, before it was released, and now, when I see a picture of it online or see it sitting on the shelves at a bookstore, I immediately smile and feel emotional and I think that’s powerful.

Libby Strout is an amazing main character and I think its because she’s exactly what I wish I could be and what I strive to be. She has been through so much and she still is going through it, even as you flip through the pages and live through her story. Every single day is a struggle, just like every day in real life is hard work. No easy days. But she pushes forward and she dances and she works hard and she lives for the moments that she wasn’t sure she was going to have. She’s so full of hope and love and I love every moment of it. I try so hard every single day to fill my life full of love and hope, those two main things, and its incredible to see in this character. She fights and I love a survivor. I love survivors and that’s exactly what she is. She’s an inspiration, even on the days where she wants to cry and give up and scream and when she’s frustrated because she gets up the next day and she tries again. There’s something incredibly beautiful about that.

Then there’s Jack who is diagnosed with something that I didn’t even know existed. And its incredible to experience that confusion through his eyes, not knowing who the people are in his life. He can’t even recognize the people he loves the most in the world and he fights so hard to keep it a secret. And the way Jennifer writes it…you don’t feel bad for him. You don’t feel sorry for him. I wanted to take his hand, just the way Libby wants to, and pull him through. I believe in him. Just like Libby, every single day is a struggle and he pushes through and he makes the best of each day but instead of being open like Libby (no matter how much it can suck and hurt), he hides and you understand and you relate. It’s so easy to hide the things about ourselves that we don’t like, the things that we fear people will judge us for.

The two of them colliding, the friendship and relationship that they develop, is just so…beautiful. I wish I had a better word to describe it that didn’t sound so cheesy lol but its true. It feels so real and genuine and the ups and downs and the fights and the struggles and the conclusion…it all feels familiar and the emotional roller coaster ride of it sticks with you from beginning to end. The fact that these two characters are so different and yet so much the same and collide together and make a friendship happen…well it just fills me with so many emotions. It fills me with love. It fills me with hope.

I think Jennifer Niven is an incredible storyteller. She has this way of writing a brand new story that you’ve never read before while at the same time writing a story that feels familiar enough to be your own. She makes you laugh. She most definitely makes you cry. She makes you feel things. She makes you clutch the book to your chest after you finish wondering how on earth it will ever be possible to pick up another book after that. She’s amazing and I honestly can’t wait to see what more she gives us in the future.

Plus, she loves Supernatural and once upon a time (as in about seven months ago), she posed with me and my book and showed so much love and support for me that I just fell in love with her as a writer and person even more.



5 out of 5 Stars

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