Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven is the story of two teens leading very different lives, but with equally challenging struggles. Libby struggles with her weight in a large way having to be cut out of her house and taken away to a hospital because she gained weight so rapidly. Jack cannot remember people's faces, so even though he knows all his schoolmates and family he has to find other identifiers to a person in order to recognize them. Libby has decided to go to the same public school that Jack attends, but she had not realized that Jack saw Libby get cut out of her house. Libby with holds the information of her past from her peers at school, but eventually the word spreads like wildfire after someone reveals the information, but she never expected that it would be Jack who did so. Jack successfully pulls the attention away from himself, but, Libby now has to endure the bullying as a result. Neither of them expected what would happen in the lunchroom one day or what happened as a result.
What was expected of this book and what it actually is are very different. The personal expectation was a story about a teen who was struggling to hold up the universe with trying to keep a family together or something like that, but the title was misleading and throughout the book it never connected. The story was enjoyable and had some interesting new takes on teen struggle with two very different characters, a girl who struggled with stress eating after her mother died and a boy who tries to fit in with all the other hip boys, but does not remember the face of his girlfriend. The character development in this book is not really what it should be. They never really change throughout the book and a lot of the story is just things happening to them, more so Libby than Jack. Jack is just mean for most of the story, then he can only remember Libby’s face so he loves her and Libby falls in love with him too even though he made her high school life miserable, which is unrealistic and pathetic.
The writing style of back and forth between Libby’s perspective and Jack’s perspective was a good way for the story to unfold. However, the ending was disappointing, it is the very stereotypical ending of a young adult fiction book that involves romance. The ending was not bad per say, but it has been done before several times. I would suggest this book to any young adult who likes the cliche romance novels, but nobody else. For a rating the book received a 3.5 out of 5 stars. Although the story had some new interesting ways to describe life as a teen the book was ruined by the cliche ending.