Review – Holding Up the Universe

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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 see who she really is. Since her mum’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. 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 art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a 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 own 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, Libby and Jack are both angry, 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.

Author: Jennifer Niven
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Penguin
Rating: ★★★★★

All the Bright Places was definitely one of the best books I read in 2016, and this book is almost as good. ATBP had a sad ending that was really hard to read, but this book did the opposite. It got happier.

Before the book was released, I’ll admit, I was dubious. I couldn’t tell whether the book was simply going to be ‘slating the fat girl’, or whether it would actually be a story worth reading. It was definitely the latter.

To put it bluntly, I’m fat. Everyone uses the adjective negatively, which is why us fat people can’t seem to claim it back for ourselves. If we call ourselves fat, someone has to pipe up and say “don’t be silly, you’re pretty!”, and I’m just like, why can’t I be both? This is something that is mentioned well in the book, and it was easily relatable. I loved Libby as a character, she was likeable, energetic and I felt empowered just through reading from her point of view.

Jack was also very likeable. I felt like their issues were completely different, but it kind of brought them both together. One of the only negative things I’d have to say is that I didn’t like the fact that Libby was trying to settle in and become confident in herself, but then she also had to be confident for Jack a lot too, such as when she’s trying to convince him to tell his family about the prosopagnosia. Aside from this, their relationship felt realistic, it wasn’t forced, and it didn’t make me scrunch my face up every time there was a ‘cute scene’.

The main point I’ve drawn from this book is definitely Libby’s confidence. As someone who struggles with self-acceptance, self-love and general confidence, Libby has really inspired me. At any point in time where I feel low about myself, I’ll think of Libby in her purple bikini, and know that regardless of what others think…

I. Am. Wanted.

Find this book on Goodreads

Happy reading xo

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