Sunday, October 2, 2016

Holding Up the Universe By: Jennifer Niven

Holding Up the Universe
Author: Jennifer Niven
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Published: October 2016
Format: Paperback ARC
Pages: 400
Rating: 4.5/5
From the author of the New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places comes a heart-wrenching story about what it means to see someone—and love someone—for who they truly are.

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 in new and bad-ass ways, 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.

Jennifer Niven delivers another poignant, exhilarating love story about finding that person who sees you for who you are—and seeing them right back.

Alrighty!! So first I want to say a huge thank-you to +Indigo | Chapters for sending me a copy of this to review! I cannot believe what a wild ride it has been reading this, and I am so grateful to have been able to read it early!

Moving on, I am going to be having a little rant at the moment, but I am hoping for it all to make sense for those of you thinking about reading this book!

So Jennifer Niven states in the beginning of the book that this is a novel drawn from real life instances, and from real people. Some of it being her own, and some from people she knows, or even those she doesn't know personally. I had seen on multiple instances of people stating that the synopsis of this book was very offensive and that the entire thing is just off of what they were believing it to be. I read for quite a while and saw many, MANY hateful comments towards Jennifer and others who were backing her up. I try not to be a person who gets caught up in that sort of drama, but sometimes it's too far. I get it, you have your own opinion, but personally "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say it at all."

I've read the entire book, and I have nothing but respect for Jennifer, as she has brought out another novel that tackles a lot of issues that literally ANYONE can relate to! Talking about mental illness is serious and everyone has their own levels of it (from minor to extreme) and have their own beliefs of self worth. Talking about a loss is always hard, because you don't really know how close they may have been to that person, and how hard it affects them. So I personally don't understand how people can say that it's unrealistic, because I was able to connect with it for multiple reasons, and I am positive that there are many other people who feel the same way! So with that being said, I hope you enjoy the rest of my review, as I explain what I took away from this novel, and Jennifer Niven...

So right off the bat, this is definitely a fast paced novel, and it really keeps going. The chapters are super short, yet at the same time really say a lot! They go both from Libby and Jack's perspectives throughout, and you really get an understanding of who they are, and how they feel about everything; life, themselves, school, etc.

While reading this, I really did love how well it was written! I would say personally, the only reason why it wasn't at a 5 star rating, was simply because I felt like the characters seemed a little too young for their age. I do understand where some people are coming from (that actually read the book) when they say that it seemed corny or like a stereotypical novel about issues similar to this, however I didn't really see that at all! Personally the way they acted sometimes made me think that they were a couple years younger, but then BAM! in would come this really deep and personal scene where it comes back to them being really mature! Sometimes had me a little confused, but other than that it was great!

I do have to admit that I really liked the witty banter between Libby and basically everyone. She is seriously the epitome of someone who has grown up and learned that it really doesn't matter who you are, that we all have our own insecurities, but it does not mean that someone else can tell you that you don't matter.

"You are Wanted."

Reading these words over and over again in some way in this novel really makes them pop out more than ever before. I will say that I myself have not always been the girl who was able to fit into the "normal sizes" for most of my life. Have I let that stop me? No! Not at all, because I have actually found some amazing places that make clothes designed for my personality and style! And at the end of the day "My weight shouldn't matter unless I'm sitting on you." Perfect words said by the lovely character herself.

Libby is honestly so liberating because she just has these amazing moments where I was so proud and happy, I was on the edge of my seat and pumped a fist in the air (mentally) from certain scenes *like page 310 and the letter* and I just couldn't believe she had that much power and courage to do what she did! I have to say the same with Jack, although it was for a completely different reason altogether, but still just as important!

I really liked how there were parts where there was soft humor to lighten the mood sometimes. I really enjoyed reading parts of Jack's side and reading about his family and friends, because they were pretty funny sometimes!

"This is what I know about loss. It doesn't get better. You just get (somewhat) used to it."

I also got the sense of the movie Take the Lead where the after school program was more like a place of healing. And overall that's what I felt like this book was all about. Healing. It didn't matter who was in that circle, yet they all came together, and you really saw shining moments of people who began to heal from it.

Alright, and here comes the mass flood of quotes that stuck out for me while reading this!

"Two broken, lonely people who maybe aren't so broken or lonely anymore."

"According to him, it's always about the face.
Only about the face.
Because the face is a road map of life."

"You can be in the car or in class or at the movies, laughing and having a good time, and suddenly it's as if someone has reached directly into the wound and squeezed with all their might."

Throughout this novel, I really enjoyed the progress these two made with one another. You see that there are so many things that link them together, and you see the very emotional ride that they take. Personally, I enjoyed that there was a little bit of a spark happening between these two, but I'll leave it at that. You can tell that there is chemistry between them in more ways than one, and I really think that's what was really important. I personally really appreciate the way that Jennifer Niven created these characters, and I honestly felt like I was in the novel itself.

So overall, I loved this book! It was so fast paced, it kept me wanting more, and it definitely left a mark for me! You really see their time growing up, learning key components of their own life and of society. I connected pretty well with these two personally in some way, and I loved the fact that the characters were so diverse!! I do wish that they were a little bit older, and that some of the scenes or dialog wasn't put as if they were pre-teens, but overall it was great! I really felt like they were healing, and that they really found themselves while twisted in an unusual way that brought them together.

So that's all for my review today! I hope you enjoyed it, and I seriously urge you go into this without reading too much into what people say. For me it was great, others not so much, but what matters most is what you take from it!

So until the next time, Keep Reading!
Your Graduated Bookworm!! :)

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