HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE by jennifer niven


jennifer niven

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.

this was a cute, quick read. for how cramped the pages were with text, i was surprised at how quickly it read. (lots of page breaks!)

it's the story of an inevitable romance between libby, formerly America's Fattest Teen, who had to quite literally be excavated from her house, and jack, a witty, charming, biracial kid who also happens to be face-blind. the romance develops in a great way--over time, something very few romantic books these days gets right. libby does not look at jack and immediately feel a flutter in her heart and a shifting in her loins. this shit takes time. niven gives us time to get to know these people, first, before she throws their mouths at each other.

even the subplots and minor characters evoke sympathy and compassion; the bullying of jack's fourth-grade brother is as heartbreaking as libby's backstory.

overall a great read with a big, beating heart.


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