Holding Up The Universe
by Jennifer Niven
Published October 4th 2016 by Knopf Books
Link to Goodreads
Young Adult Contemporary
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.
When I started reading HUTU, it was something that I knew I wanted to read. It tackled health and disabilities, body shaming, racism, diversity, and bullying. Instantaneously, I hyped it up in bookstagram… but now I think I regret it.
Libby Strout, once labeled as “America’s Fattest Teen” is a fun, quirky, determined, head-strong character who has the best dance parties! But that can’t overshadow how it seems like she’s in a rush to fall in love and find the right person stat! and that annoyed me the most.
Jack Masselin on another hand is one of the popular guys, but the thing is he has this visual disability called prosopagnosia which is a cognitive disability that makes the person NOT recognize faces. *I highly appreciated that this book brought light to this disability because I didn’t even know there was such thing!
He’s a real charmer, also very calm and collected. The way he handles his disability makes me sad at the same time proud. He can be an asshole with other people just to cover that he can’t actually recognize them (?! waht—not that being an ass is nice, lol).
The plot had so much potential and I really thought that it was going to places. It was a book made to shed some light to diversity and representation *since both have been given importance to young adult literature especially at this day and age. Further on, this book became an instant romance and disregarded whatever factors I liked when I began reading this novel. I felt like it failed in some aspects of the book especially with Libby Strout’s character with being a fat girl. There are positive things (she’s empowering and all that), but I can’t look past the way she acts around Jack and vice-versa. Honestly, I strongly believe that these two would’ve been better off without the romance and as friends instead.
The writing style was easy to get in to, but it can be a bit… weird if you ask me. Lines like “but suddenly my entire body is wired, as if I’ve been plugged directly into the sun.” (???) I was completely confused with that sentence. She seems to like using the sun to interpret feelings in this book… I also didn’t like how Libby suddenly realized that Jack was a guy! A GUY! a guy that she might potentially fall in love with… with his guyishness…
I absolutely loved Dusty (Jack’s brother) because he was just full of spirit and him being him. He was so genuine and pure, I loved every scene ith him in it.
I don’t think I’d recommend this book as much as I wanted at the first few pages. I don’t want to sound offensive but this book had such high potential, I wish it focused less on the romance.