Book Review: Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven

Published in 2016

388 pages

2 out of 5 stars

Sypnosis from Goodreads:

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, 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.

My thoughts:

Let me start by saying I had high expectations for this book! “All the Bright Places” is one of my all time favourite books, and when I saw Jennifer Niven being interviewed about this book earlier in the year, I was instantly intrigued; one of the main characters suffers a unique problem; he can’t always recognise faces; and Libby sounded like an intriguing character. When I started this book, I was definitely feeling like it was so unique! Jennifer Niven writes characters so intricately, you can’t help but be pulled in! I was excited to read more….

But, as I did read on, I just found the book didn’t really go anywhere? I mean sure, Libby did some great things, I’m glad how much she evolved as a character; same with Jack – but oh my goodness there were times when both characters started to get on my nerves; some of the things that they did made no sense! Like, what was with Libby’s sexual urges,the fact that she thought she could have sex to lose all the weight? Just cause she saw it on tv? Didn’t do it for me; and Jack was great, honestly, but ugh I got so annoyed when he suddenly decided something about 3/4 in the book, it’s like ‘what the heck?’ I then felt like Jack was the biggest walking contradiction. Honestly. And then the last 1/4 of the book didn’t do much for me at all, I feel like it was just even more repetitive. I really hope Jennifer Niven writes something similar to ‘All The Bright Places’ next! That book just tugged at my heartstrings in all the best ways, and honestly it’s still with me today!

I’ll leave it there, until next time happy reading!

Brooklyn 🙂


  1. Great review! But in fairness… it would be incredibly difficult to top All The Bright Places. Perhaps with longer POV’s, it’d be easier to feel a better connection to the characters but I also think Niven’s USP is writing stories on mental health. I’d love her to continue on this track but… it is her career after all!

    Liked by 1 person

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