English/Spanish Book Review: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Title: Holding Up the Universe
Authors: Jennifer Niven
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date:  October 4th, 2016
Page Count:  400 pages
Format:  eARC
Source: Netgalley

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.
*The Reader's Review*
My rating: 5/5 stars´
.This review can also be found on YA Books Central.

This is the first time I read a book written by Jennifer Niven and it certainly won't be the last! Holding Up the Universe is everything you wish for in a YA Contemporary novel—it has love, friendship, family relationships, a guy swayed to see more than meets the eye, an awe-inspiring heroine that 100% proves that size is just a silly number.

What I liked:

The first thing that made me fall for Holding Up the Universe is Jennifer Niven's writing. It's the kind that is addictive and easy to follow, light yet with enough weight to strike heart chords. Readers will have trouble putting it down (like me) after reading the first page because her writing just hooks and doesn't let go!

The main characters in Holding Up the Universe are wonderful, starting with Libby. There's nothing that I did not love about her! Libby is strong, sweet, clever, and someone that truly inspires to embrace and love your body. Size does not stop anyone from dancing or running or doing any other thing that makes you feel good, and Libby proves that wonderfully. She is definitely one of the best characters I have had the pleasure of meeting in a YA Contemporary novel!

Another great character is Jack Masselin, who has an unusual condition called Prosopagnosia (also known as face blindness) which means that he can see you, but not remember your face the second you turn away. His POV is such an interesting, eye-opening experience that instantly made me appreciate all his effort to remember the littlest of details in order to lead a somewhat normal life. I love how his character grows so much throughout the novel and how everything he does eventually leads him back to Libby, who in return, grows along with him.

I also cannot stand not to mention Libby's father. He is a great paternal figure in this novel and even funny. His relationship with Libby is amazing and, despite some mistakes in the past, I love how hard he tries to make up for it. Unfortunately, not all family relationships are as great as Libby's in this novel and Holding Up the Universe flips the coin and shows some ugly sides with Jack's and how this affects every member of the family. I felt deeply for him and his younger brother mostly.

What didn't do it for me:

One thing that did make me struggle while reading this book was trying to remember some of the secondary characters. I just could not keep up with them or set them apart despite their descriptions. This led me to a few confusing scenes where remembering who was who would have been super helpful. Besides that, everything was great.

Final Verdict:

Jennifer Niven's Holding Up the Universe is a wonderful YA Contemporary that approaches important topics such as positive body image, Prosopagnosia conditions, self-identity, family issues, and relationships. It's a roller-coaster ride packed with emotional punches in every up and down, and I know readers will love every second of it.

*Spanish Book Review/ Reseña en Español*

Esta es la primera vez que leo un libro escrito por Jennifer Niven y sin duda no será el último. Holding Up the Universe tiene todo lo que puedes desear de una novela juvenil contemporáneatiene romance, amistad, habla sobre relaciones familiares, un jóven protagonista que se esmera por ver más de lo que parece, y una heroína ejemplar que demuestra al 100% que el tamaño es sólo un tonto número.

Lo que me gustó:

La primero que llamó mi atención de Holding Up the Universe es la escritura de Jennifer Niven. Es el tipo de escritura que es adictiva y fácil de seguir, ligera pero con suficiente peso para golpear acordes del corazón. ¡Fue bastante difícil soltar el libro antes de terminarlo! 

Los personajes principales de Holding Up the Universe son increíbles, comenzando con Libby. ¡No hay nada que no me guste de ella! Libby es fuerte, dulce, inteligente, y alguien que realmente inspira a aceptar y amar nuestro físico. El tamaño no impide que alguien baile, corra, o realizar cualquier otra cosa que te haga sentir bien, y Libby demuestra esto maravillosamente. ¡Ella es sin duda uno de los mejores personajes que he tenido el placer de conocer en una novela contemporánea júvenil!

Otro gran personaje es Jack Masselin, que tiene una condición inusual llamada Prosopagnosia (también conocida como ceguera facial) lo que significa que él puede verte, pero no recuerda caras al momento que se dan la vuelta. Su punto de vista es una experiencia muy interesante y revelador que me hizo apreciar todo su esfuerzo para recordar el más pequeño de los detalles de las personas con el fin de llevar una vida semi-normal. Me encanta cómo su personaje crece en la novela y cómo todo lo que hace finalmente lo lleva de nuevo a Libby, que en retrospectiva, crece también junto con él.

Asimismo, no puedo olvidar de mencionar el padre de Libby. Él es una gran figura paterna en esta novela e incluso divertido. Su relación con Libby es increíble y, a pesar de algunos errores en el pasado, me encanta lo duro que intenta compensarlo. Por desgracia, no todas las relaciones familiares en esta novela son tan ejemplares como la de Libby. Holding Up the Universe también trata temas de problemas familiares vistas con Jack y cómo ésto afecta a todos los miembros de la familia.

Lo que me dejó con ganas de más: 

Una cosa que me hizo batallar durante la lectura de este libro fue el recordar algunos de los personajes secundarios. Simplemente no pude mantenerme al día con ellos o distiguirlos a pesar de sus descripciones. Sentí que ellos no eran lo suficientemente memorables, y esto me hizo estar confundida en varias escenas donde recordar quién era quién hubiera sido muy útil. Todo lo demás es perfecto.

Veredicto final:

Holding Up the Universe por Jennifer Niven es una maravillosa novela júvenil contemporánea que se acerca a temas importantes tales como la importancia de tener una imagen positiva deltu cuerpo, la enfermedad de Prosopagnosia, identidad personal, y problemas sobre relaciones familiares. Esta novela es una montaña rusa llena de golpes emocionales en cada sube y baja, pero sé que los lectores disfrutarán cada segundo dentro de sus páginas.


  1. I really, really liked this book! I didn't love it as much as ATBP, so I guess that was my problem.
    I LOVED Libby'd dad, too! And Jack's little brother... uh, I don't remember his name.

  2. 1.) I love how you do dual bilingual reviews. 2.) I am undecided about this book still. Some like you absolutely love, others hate it. I'll probably wind up reading it eventually because it's a fat protagonist, which there isn't much of.

    Thanks for this! It's really interesting to see where everyone lands on this book.