To be honest with you, I don’t keep up with upcoming releases unless it’s a part of a series that I’ve been following e.g. Harry Potter or The Fever Code. So I was a bit surprised to see that there was a new book from Jennifer Niven coming out soon. I loved All the Bright Places, so I was really hoping that the new book, Holding Up the Universe, would be as good.
It was even better.
(this review may contain SPOILERS!)
Holding Up the Universe follows the story of two high schoolers: Libby Strout and Jack Masselin. The former was once dubbed as “America’s fattest teen”, and the latter has a rare disorder where he cannot recognize faces, even his own. Like in Niven’s previous book, these characters met at an unusual and unexpected circumstance, where they eventually saw past any weaknesses and found comfort in each other.
I seriously expected that this book would cause the same heartbreak and agony like All the Bright Places (read my review of this book here!). But thank goodness it didn’t. It’s not a joyous ride from start to finish; there were ups and downs. But at least it wasn’t so gloomy and depressing. Nevertheless, I’d still say it’s happier and a lighter reading. And surely as beautiful.
What I loved about Holding Up the Universe:
1. The hate-to-love trope
I first found out that this trope exists in the book when I was reading Paperfury’s (aka Cait) review (read her fabulous review here!). I was barely planning to read this book (re: heard about it, thought about reading it maybe months later) when I read her review and immediately I was certain that I had to read it soon! Hate-to-love trope is my FAVORITE and the one in this book didn’t let me down.
2. Libby was such a positive human being
With her past conditions, I was surprised to see how much she had grown from it. It wasn’t told much in the book, but her confidence and positive attitude were palpable, especially towards the end.
“We don’t ever leave that old world behind. We just create a new one.”
3. Libby’s relationship with her father
I was amazed by how cool and funny her father was. He was a cool dad! Again, despite everything they’d been through, it’s nice to see a happy daughter/father relationship, especially in fiction. One of my favorite quotes from him is “No sex of any kind for you until you’re thirty.” I know it’s typical, but it’s still funny to me.
4. Supernatural references
I’m not even a Supernatural fan, not anymore. But it’s always nice to see such references from other books/films/TV shows. And knowing how much Niven loves the series, it’s save to say that I’d write loads of Harry Potter references too if I were to write a book.
And I just flipped through the pages and found that there’s a mention of “Harry Potter” on page 28.
5. It creates prosopagnosia awareness
I had no clue about this disorder when I first saw the word. Or face blindness. It never occurred to me that such disorder would exist. It’s horrifying, but the world needs to know more about it. This is one of many reasons why Jennifer Niven is one my favorite authors, because she brings awareness to issues like this.
6. Libby and Jack’s banter and flirting
“I would probably want to hold your hand.“
“Hypothetically, yes. I would definitely hypothetically want to hold your hand.“
“But after I danced you to the door, I’d want to kiss you.“
Romance in the 21st century, ladies and gents.
What I didn’t like:
I mentioned on my Goodreads that this might be my #1 favorite book of the year. I didn’t quite find what I didn’t like about it. Although, at first I was quite baffled with Libby’s confidence when she wore that purple bikini at school. Where did that come from? Initially I found that bit quite unrealistic, but then maybe her friends and Rachel Mendes her tutor and Jack Masselin really opened a part of her that she didn’t realize she had before. I was really glad how things turned out for her and Jack in the end.
“We’re all weird and damaged in our own way. You’re not the only one.”
I gave this book a 5/5 rating on Goodreads. Can’t wait to read more books from Jennifer Niven!
Have you read Holding Up the Universe? What are your thoughts about it? Comment down below!