[Book Review #77] ARC: Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven (Blog Tour Launch)

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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.

Book Specifications:

Author: Jennifer Niven

Format: ARC

Part of a Series: No. Standalone.

Release Date: October 4, 2016

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

No. of Pages: 400 pages

Price: $17.99

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Teen, Family, Mental Illness

For PH readers, you may purchase your Holding Up The Universe copies at National Book Store! Check this out for more details.

Book Review:

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I received a print ARC of this book from Penguin Random House which in no way swayed my opinion about the story.

Reading Jennifer Niven’s YA debut novel last year made me realize just how unprepared I usually am when it comes to reading heart-wrenching books. I didn’t know that All The Bright Places would destroy me emotionally, and I took that knowledge with me as I started reading Holding Up The Universe. I built some walls to protect me so that I would not be as wounded as I was the last time. I don’t know what happened, but for some reason, Jennifer still got through to me, butchering my heart with Jack Masselin and Libby Strout’s story.

I mainly loved Holding Up The Universe because of how much I relate to the female protagonist, Libby. Just like her, I suffered from an eating disorder in the past. I’m one of those few people who “eats their feelings”. Just like Libby, I’ve been through a lot, and there was a time when I got so depressed that I gained a massive amount of weight. Libby, after losing her mother, had a rough time trying to get back up and she had no idea as to what to do, and she turned to food for comfort, not knowing that she would soon be bullied for being fat. I also experienced being bullied. It’s a phenomenal experience reading a book knowing that you’ve been through some of the things mentioned in it. It makes a person’s reading experience a lot more heartfelt and personal. *cries*

I also want to talk about how impressive each of the chapters were written. Told in dual perspectives, Holding Up The Universe gave readers a concrete peek into the lives of both Jack and Libby. The story was made fast-paced and interesting all throughout 400 pages through this technique. Jennifer didn’t write filler scenes, which usually makes me disinterested, and it made my reading experience a breeze. The story was well connected even though it was told in dual points of view, and each scene contributed to the betterment of the plot, and in return, it kept me duly interested, making me read the book in one seating. AND whenever I read books in one seating, it means that I absolutely adore said book!

In addition to the unique, and rather effective chaptering of Holding Up The Universe, I also wanted to point out how Jennifer improved with her writing. Her sophomore novel is just as poetic as All The Bright Places, but the accuracy and intimacy of her detail writing this time around was a lot more endearing. I’m not entirely sure if it’s because the story was a lot more personal to her, but it was impressive. It made me love the story even more.

I also love how even the side characters got their own short stories focusing on their individual lives, and struggles. I loved knowing where characters are coming from, why they act the way they do, and with Holding Up The Universe, I got just that. It made me connect not only with our main characters, but also with everyone who struggles everyday to strive and be happy. It made the story more complex, yet all the more relatable.

“Holding Up The Universe is a fantastic new book from Jennifer Niven which will take you on a massive roller coaster ride of emotions. You’ll feel for her characters, making you not just connect, but also love them for the stories they share, and for the things they’ve been through, which might somehow also relate to you. It’s about making your mark in the world, and about being seen for who you truly are, and what you can offer to the world. You NEED to read this!

RATING:

Characters – 4.50

Plot – 4.50

Writing Style – 4.50

Pacing – 4.50

Ending – 4.50

TOTAL – 4.5 / 5 Stars

Quotable Quotes:

“It’s the suddenness of life changing in an instant that makes me anxious when I sleep and makes me tell myself to breathe when I’m awake.”

“Too much of my life feels like this already- trying to recycle something old into something new and better, disguising someone else’s trash as some fresh, shiny thing.”

“This is what I know about loss. It doesn’t get better. You just get (somewhat) used to it.”

“YOU ARE WANTED. Big, small, tall, short, pretty, plain, friendly, shy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, not even yourself.”

“It’s about the important things, like the way their face lights up when they laugh, or the way they move as they’re walking towards you, or the way their freckles create a map of the stars.”

Many thanks to Jennifer Niven for writing to me and offering me an Advanced Reader’s Copy of her book, and to Penguin Random House for making it all possible. This blog tour I’m hosting is NOTHING without you.

Also, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for the reviews of the amazing participants for this tour. I’m linking all their reviews below.

About the Author:

By the time she was ten, Jennifer had already written numerous songs, a poem for Parker Stevenson (“If there were a Miss America for men, You would surely win”), two autobiographies (All About Me and My Life in Indiana: I Will Never Be Happy Again), a Christmas story, several picture books (which she illustrated herself) featuring the Doodle Bugs from Outer Space, a play about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s sister entitled Blindness Strikes Mary, a series of prison mysteries, a collection of short stories featuring her as the main character (an internationally famous rock star detective), and a partially finished novel about Vietnam. She was also an excellent speller from a very early age.

In 2000, she started writing full-time, and she hasn’t stopped… She has written nine books (#9 will be out Oct 4, 2016), and when I’m not working on the tenth, I’m writing the screenplay for All the Bright Places, contributing to her web magazine, Germ (www.germmagazine.com), thinking up new books, and dabbling in TV. She is always writing.

Twitter || Goodreads || Website

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