BOOK REVIEW: Jennifer Niven – Holding Up The Universe


This is a half-hearted review….. keep scrolling unless you really like what I say.

Title: Holding Up The Universe
Author: Jennifer Niven
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: Oct 4, 2016

Goodreads: 4.04/5
Barnes and Noble: 4.8/5


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.




If there was anything I liked about this book, it’s the characters. Despite being obese, Libby knew who she was and did not back down on a fight. She disliked bullying and would not give a second thought to punch who ever started on her or her friends. She reminded me of a friend of mine, which was mostly why I read the book in the first place.

Jack was a complicated one. This was actually the first time I had heard of this mental illness and it’s quite unbelievable for me. Though, through much research, it does exit [!]. I liked Jack’s personality as an outgoing kid, however it was so unlike of him to leave Libby at the height of their relationship. I felt that was forced just to make the plot more exciting [to an extent].


Style and Pacing:

The writing wasn’t really profound or poetic. It was a very light read and I paced through the book easily. Every chapter had some sense in them and some did not really mean anything for me.

The book over explained Jack’s illness having the first half completely [and redundantly] mentioning that he had trouble recognizing every person that approached him, even his family and close friends. It started to get annoying when I reached the 100th page and Niven still excessively expressed Jack’s struggles.

“Dear friend, You are not a freak. You are wanted. You are necessary. You are the only you there is. Don’t be afraid to leave the castle. It’s a great big world out there. Love, a fellow reader”

Probably I did not enjoy the book because I could not relate to the references Niven used throughout the book and hat just left me blank and looking for context clues.



Here we go. Another book romanticizing mental illness and obesity.

I did get that. For people suffering what the characters had, this would have been a more compelling and uplifting story. For some reason, I would have found more meaning in the book if the ending would have been tragic. [But that’s just my opinion.]


Personal Rating:

There was so much hype on this book and I can’t help but admit that it did not meet my expectation especially from Niven’s first book.

Putting the hype aside though and trying to just read the book as it is, it is a good read all in all. Good for passing the time. I would suggest reading this when you are at the stage of almost moving on, that way, the story won’t be as heavy as it actually is.

The book ended flat for me. Towards the end I could not even force myself to root for the characters despite the immersive efforts of the writing. It was just too much that it made the characters feel unrealistic and annoying.



Stars 3.0

Slow paced. In between light and melodramatic. Not one I suggest for everyone.



“We’re all weird and damaged in our own way. You’re not the only one.”

“I’ve always thought you should be able to freeze time. This way you could hit the Pause button at a really good point in your life so that nothing changes”

“It’s the suddenness of life changing in an instant that makes me anxious when I sleep and makes me tell myself to breathe when I’m awake.”

“You might not want to burn your bridges when you’re standing on an island.”

“We don’t ever leave that old world behind. We just create a new one.”


Hope you guys found my review entertaining and informative.

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