Monday, October 10, 2016

Blog Tour Review: Holding Up The Universe - Jennifer Niven

Holding Up the Universe
Jennifer Niven
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young readers
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have so many feelings about this book!!!! I don't even know where to start!!!!!!!! I read the ARC Kiersten picked up for me at BEA back in August and seeing the hype surrounding the release a few days ago just makes me want to reread it and take it all in again (which tbh I will probably do when I'm not tryna write 15 papers).

Holding Up the Universe shifts between two points of view: 1. Jack Masselin, who has prosopagnosia, or face-blindness (basically everyone looks like strangers to him, even his own family) but for some reason does not tell anyone and just tries to fake it til he makes it, and 2. Libby Strout, who, after her mother's death, started stress/binge eating and ended up being dubbed "America's Fattest Teen" and had to be cut out of her house but has since lost enough weight to stop homeschooling and go back to high school.

Both of these characters were so phenomenally well-written I can't possibly do them justice in a review. But this was most certainly a character-driven story, so I guess I do have to talk about them and attempt to show you why I love them. Jack oozed ~swagger~ and ~cool guy vibes~ but inside was just a precious little nerd. I found him so endearing and also so incredibly real like at any moment while I was reading I would look up and he would be there, spouting off his dialogue. He had a calculated, mathematical way of thinking that sounded so intriguing and engaging.

Libby also felt super real, but I feel like I just liked Jack a lil bit more and so I connected to him a little more. This isn't to say I didn't like Libby of course because she was great. Her character also could have been in the room in front of me and I would not have been surprised. Libby was definitely a lot ~softer~ than Jack. She loved dancing and literature and writing quotes on her shoes and finding herself in unexpected places. Her narration was also always eloquent and expressive. Also, she had this book she was obsessed with, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and it looked and sounded super cool and I looked it up and it's being made into a 2017 movie with Sebastian Stan and Alexandra Daddario and the girl who played Violet in AHS (also, it was a really cool, well-incorporated motif throughout the book which is why I bothered looking it up in the first place).

Anyway, Jack and Libby seem like characters from such different walks of life but they're alike in a lot of ways -- tough exteriors, squishy interiors, etc -- and their stark differences really help them grow as individuals and also find the things that are similar. I don't know if that made sense, but the two have a lot of chemistry. I was rooting for them so hard.

The story is cute and one of my favorite contemporaries I've read this year. I know it's gonna be a book I read hella times. Jennifer Niven makes the reading experience seem like you're not even reading, just floating through the lives and the drama of the characters. Her writing just feels so effortless. The characters are so well-developed -- side characters included -- and the story draws you in both with the main plot and the tiny little details that add so much to the story. Basically, read the book. You will not regret it.

Also, before I end, one quick note. I've seen some ~~controversy~~ about the book and people finding it offensive and I think a lot of it was posted in the months leading up to the release from people who hadn't actually read it, but like, it's not an offensive or distasteful book in the slightest. Libby doesn't become ~thin and beautiful~ and then get the guy and Jack doesn't love her "despite" her body and there's no magic weight loss journey or whatever else people are crying about. The book is a diverse, beautifully written journey of two teens struggling with their respective issues and it doesn't trivialize or make fun of those issues in any way.

- Noor

Cool guy vibes or cute dancing queen vibes?
Let us know in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful review! My heart almost exploded reading this book. I expected it to be sadder, because when I asked Niven to rate it on a scale of 1 to All the Bright Places, she said 7, but it wasn't sad. Loved it!