Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven


Where to buy it: QBD the Bookshop, Paperback $14.99, QBD Ebook $10.99

When can I get my hands on it: Now!

What can I expect: Young Adult, romance, body image, prosopagnosia, some laughs, some romance, overall a fun read.

Dancing is what I love most and dancing is what I plan to do with my life. I haven’t taken lessons since I was ten, but the dance is in me and no lack of training can make that go away…When the song is over, I find a marker and decorate one shoe. As long as you live, there’s always something waiting; and even if it’s bad, and you know it’s bad, what can you do? You can’t stop living. (Truman Capote, In Cold Blood). Then I reach for the lipstick my grandmother gave me for my birthday, lean into the mirror and I paint my lips red.

What can I tell you about this book? It has two main characters, Jack and Libby.

The main theme is about identifying with being different. Right from the start, we discover that Libby is overweight, and was morbidly obese. Jack has prosopagnosia – an inability to recognise familiar faces, including family and friends- which he is keeping a secret from everyone- including his family.

Libby was a true spunk rat. I mean she actually hit someone at school. Because they deserved it! And she chased someone across an oval, because they also deserved it. Don’t get me wrong, Libby is a sweet girl, intent on getting on in high school, making friends, fitting in, but what I loved about her is that she stands up for herself and people around her. Basically she takes no shit. And I love it.

Jack is also a pretty cool guy, but a little annoying at times. Despite the book being about both their stories, Libby really is there to help Jack come into his own and have the courage to be different from his other classmates. He needs Libby to wake up and to shake himself out of just being a survivor of high school and more of a radical! 😀

Jack’s prosopagnosia does take more of a backseat within the novel. It is unusual diagnosis and not so physically obvious compared to Libby’s weight, and he uses tactics to cover up his mistakes when he doesn’t recognise someone. The growth with Jack was seeing Libby getting bullied and the way that she handled it. It made Jack realise that he can be strong in his individuality and OK with his uniqueness.

All in all, this book was pretty great. To be honest, I don’t generally read YA as I find them a bit too same-same at times. But this book is unique and stands out from other YA. And I especially like how it addresses body image and that the main protagonist isn’t a size 8. It addresses issues that young readers should think about, as people’s lives are often much more complex than you can see externally.

Definitely another book to put on your summer reading list!


Amy xx




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