BOOK REVIEW: Jennifer Niven “Holding Up the Universe”

28686840Title: Holding Up the Universe

Author: Jennifer Niven

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 1/5 stars


Once known as “America’s Fattest Teen”, Libby Strout used to be so big that she was unable to fit through her bedroom door. Firemen were called, and she was lifted by crane from her home. After losing much of the weight, though, Libby is ready to go back to high school after several years of homeschooling.

As for Jack Masselin, he has a problem that’s not as easily spotted: he’s unable to recognize faces. He manages to make it through school by being charming, knowing just what to say and learning to recognize people by other traits. He manages to fake it so no one knows his secret.

My thoughts:

Through a series of unlikely scenarios, these two characters come together to form a friendship, and I’m forced to assume more than that? I wouldn’t know because I only made it about 1/3 of the way through this book.

I don’t typically review books that I’ve DNF’d, but I find it difficult not to share my concerns about Holding Up the Universe. There was so much that was unrealistic about this that it was hard for me to take it seriously. I couldn’t help but wonder how this idea ever made it past Niven’s agents, or whoever decides what books get published.

I’m fully aware of how real of a problem that bullying is. While I never attended public school myself, I was definitely not well-liked in the private schools/homeschool groups that I attended in middle school. I was always the odd ball and occasionally made fun of. I was never bullied for my weight; I was a skinny kid so at least I didn’t have that going against me. However, I have such a hard time believing that a fat girl can’t walk down the hall without one person snickering at her or making fun of her. It seems unnecessarily cruel.

Please correct me if I’m wrong. As I stated, I never went to public school, but most of the people I know who did say that it’s never as bad as it’s portrayed on TV. And even though I was never a part of that scene, I was still a kid who spent plenty of time with other kids, and I gave many of them plenty of reasons to bully me. I seem to have come away from it only slightly scarred.

While I wasn’t overweight as a teenager, I’m a little on the plus size now. I read this book and I have a hard time believing that Jennifer Niven understands at all what it’s like to be fat. I’m not saying that a writer has to be fat in order to write the part of a fat character; however, she doesn’t seem to understand Libby herself, so it was hard for me to connect with the character regardless of me being overweight as well.

I’m all for a story about empowerment and self-love, but even though Libby had seemed to come to terms with her body and the way she looked, she based her happiness and her self-confidence on whether or not she could get a boyfriend. She literally walked into school on her first day back hoping to find a boy who would “sex the weight right off” of her. Um, what?

Don’t even get me started on Jack. His character was even less believable, and I couldn’t connect with him on any level. He was cocky and confusing and shallow.

I closed the book for good during a part where the two MCs are in the car together. Jack thinks in his head something along the lines of: “I can feel the electricity between us” (paraphrased). Excuse me? What electricity? These two were hardly friends, let alone romantic. There was no chemistry between them. Niven literally forced these two to fall in love and it was cringe-worthy to say the least. Can someone say “instalove”?

This book was trying too hard to be Eleanor & Park, and frankly, I think you should go read that instead. And for the record, this is the second time I have DNF’d a book by Jennifer Niven. Seeing as we’re 2/2, I think we should stop seeing each other. Bye.


Jennifer Niven: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Noteworthy Standalones

A struggle that I often find as a reader is standalones vs series. While I enjoy a good series, I hate having to wait for sequels to come out and ultimately, they’re a pain in my butt. I have to make sure they’re all the same editions and they’re either all paperback or all hardcover. I have to worry about covers matching and what they’re going to look like next to each other on my shelves. They’re way too much trouble. And sometimes, I want to read one book that I know is going to wrap up, and that’ll be the end of it. No cliffhangers, no need to wait for the rest of the books to be released; it’s all right there under one cover. It’s beautiful.

9780143567592One of the more popular, and one of my favorites, is by none other than John Green. The Fault in Our Stars has received mixed reviews, but I ultimately really enjoyed this book. John Green is always so quotable, and TFIOS is no exception. It’s a story about a girl who is fighting cancer and a boy who beat it, but also so much more than that. Green doesn’t always focus on the cancer-ness of our characters, but also doesn’t ignore it. It’s a theme, yes, but the love between them is central. The dialogue and characters are spot-on, and the book is has humor, heartbreak, and poignancy all rolled into one.

Siren_BookCoverA pleasant surprise for me was The Siren by Kiera Cass. After reading The Selection, I was so disappointed by the way women were represented in her stories. I hated that I hated every female character in her books, but I read The Siren because regardless, I still eat up her stories.

I absolutely loved it. I thought it was a beautiful, original, interesting story, and the relationships between the female characters was so heartwarming. For once, I didn’t want to choke all the characters in a Cass book! This was such an interesting, lovely read that I’m actually looking forward to picking up again soon.

71LkLmxqgjLThe next book is a popular Rainbow Rowell read: Eleanor & Park. It took me a long time to pick this up because I was skeptical, but I was so glad when I finally did. This was such a good, simple story about two very complex individuals who fall in love. They both have their struggles but they end up bonding over the things that make each other hurt, and I think that’s beautiful. At times, this was a really difficult book to read, and the ending tears my heart out, but I believe that in the end, the story is very rewarding.

1428026872053That’s not the only Rainbow Rowell selection I’m including here today. Next up is Fangirl, one of the cutest books you’ll ever read in your life. This is much more light-hearted compared to Eleanor & Park and has just a very sweet story. You’ll fall in love with every single character, and anyone who’s ever written or read fanfiction should easily relate to Cath, our MC.

16143347Next up is We Were Liars by E Lockhart, which is a mystery with a crazy plot twist at the end. I really loved reading this because while I love to try and predict the ending to these kinds of books, I love to be surprised. This book definitely surprised me, practically blew me away. It’s definitely worth the read, whether you liked the ending or not, and I’d definitely recommend this.

9781250050748One of my more recent reads was This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales, which I loved. I was surprised by this book as well, but was so happy to have finally read it. This book deals with suicide and thoughts of it in such a great way that I appreciated. I wrote an actual review of this which you can check out here, but ultimately, this book was incredible and heartbreaking and I would definitely recommend it.

The_Book_ThiefThe last standalone I’ll be mentioning today is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This is such an important, wonderful, interesting book that I think everyone should read. It’s so cleverly and brilliantly written and completely enjoyable. The narration was spectacular, and basically I can’t think of enough glowing adjectives to describe this book. Definitely a noteworthy standalone.

That’s all for today, folks. Obviously, there are many other wonderful standalones, but that’s for another time and post. I hope that by reading this, you’ve found a new book to add to your TBR list or at least find that you have a few things in common with me. Mahalo!