Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Libby Strout has the distinction of being "America's Fattest Teen" -- the girl who was once lifted out of her house with a crane. But no one has ever really taken the time to know Libby, a complicated and kind person who is still struggling with her mom's death and the aftermath of the crane incident. But Libby is stronger than people realize and she's now ready to try high school for the first time. She wants to experience life at a real school: with friends, clubs, love, and more. At school, Libby meets Jack Masselin. Jack is a popular kid struggling with a secret: he doesn't recognize faces. This issue makes high school popularity (and life) surprisingly complicated. Jack's life becomes even more complicated when he gets caught up in an awful high school bullying game that involves Libby. As a result, the two of them wind up in counseling together. Suddenly, they are spending a lot of time together and becoming surprising friends.
This was just a lovely book. I sped through this novel in about a day, because it was just so amazing, but I sort of wish I had savored it more, because it was so good. Libby is an excellent character. There were moments were I was simply amazed by her, and it's easy to say that I fell hard for her. Jack, too, but Libby - Libby is something special. I had read reviews (before the book came out) saying that its coverage of Libby's weight was offensive, but I didn't find it offensive at all. If anything, the book is empowering, and there were passages that made me want to stand up and shout for her. You cannot help but root for Libby.
As with many YA books, it did seem like Jack and Libby were a little mature for high school, but mostly, they felt right on point; if anything, they were each a reflection of how kids have to grow up so much faster now, what with the world being so cruel and all the bullying around them. Besides, each had suffered so much in their own way, even if Jack's life was so much easier on the surface than Libby's. Because I'd read Niven's previous novel, I was constantly waiting for something awful to happen, so there was that. :) I have to say that I enjoyed this one more than All the Bright Places, even if that's hearsay for some. It was a well-written and beautiful book and just left me with a good feeling at the end... even if it also left me wishing I could meet Jack and Libby in real life.
You can read my review of ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES here.
View all my reviews