Odd ramblings of an obsessed reader

Book Reviews

Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven

Holding up the Universe

Holding Up The Universe … where do I start? I am probably going to rain on everyone’s parade because this is my biggest disappointment of 2016.  I must be the only person in the world who hasn’t gone crazy over this book. I just don’t get the fuss and hype.

Is it good? Well, it’s not awful, but I didn’t find anything special about it. No spark. No fizz. It’s sweet, in a cheesy, patronising happily-ever-after, rainbow filled, unicorn dancing kind of way.

Realistic? Not even a little drop of realism there. It may have fared better as a fantasy. How can I judge? I’ve been there. Overweight teen, bullied… I have been there. I am there.

The clichés and miracle type coincidences

Clichés and miracle type coincidences in spades. They just kept on coming.

Spoiler box alerts ahead

The clichés & coincidences

Two extreme, diverse cases of ill-health in one town… in one street. They are in the same school. They have a past. They help each other. They fall in love


Then to top it all there is one HUGE omission and some confusing times…

The omission

Jack’s family ignore his 18th birthday. Nothing. He pretends to be sick and no one cares. Hello. It’s his birthday! Yes, there was some dysfunction in his family, but nowhere near as extreme to be an excuse to forget his birthday.


Things that had me confused

No one knew?

I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that none of Jack’s family realised he had a disability. It would have been more believable if at least one of them, possibly his little brother who was so close to him, to be in on his secret.

The confession

Then there is the sudden desire to confess to Libby. Why here, why now? He has acted like a jerk many times before while trying to hide in plain sight.

Weight loss without commitment

Being so overweight that a crane is required to leave the house is rare. This is not just obese and it’s not easy to lose that weight. Although there are many mentions of how hard it was, Libby appears to miraculously keep the weight off and has no worries about stretch marks or lose skin. Other than a little dancing in her bedroom she apparently has no regular exercise, no gym, dance classes… This makes the weight loss message come across as patronising to all those who are trying to lose weight. Anyone who has had to lose a considerable amount of  weight would have a regular exercise routine in place. It’s hard work.


I so wanted to love this book.  I wanted to join in on all the fangirling. But alas I am sitting alone wondering what is wrong with me #bookwormproblems2 Star

Recommended age: 12+

Title: Holding Up The Universe holding-up-the-universe-1
Author: Jennifer Niven
Publication Date: 6 October 2016
Publisher: Penguin
Source: Purchased

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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 see who she really is. Since her mum’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. 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 art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a 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, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his own 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, Libby and Jack are both angry, 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. — Abstract from Goodreads.com


  1. Rissi

    I’ve been seeing this one and wondering about it, but after reading some of your thoughts (love the review/spoiler boxes), I think I’ll skip it. At least for now. 🙂

  2. Cait @ Paper Fury

    Aw, I’m sad you didn’t like it! Except honestly I haven’t found ANYONE who did really love it. SO I feel like I’m flailing alone. *howls* I even forced my sister to read it and she wasn’t really impressed.? I loved Jack and I thought his disability was actually pretty accurately done because when you have “invisible” disabilities people often do overlook them so easily. What I didn’t get was why he didn’t talk to anyone about it?!? Like he was so ashamed, which I get, but how did he not even mention it to his brothers or his parents? I still love Jack a lot though. And LOVED the Supernatural references! 😀

    • Comment by post author

      It’s a good thing that we don’t all like the same things otherwise some poor books would never get any attention! I identified with Jack at times because I am terrible at remembering names and new faces. It must be a very lonely disability.

  3. Kimberly Sabatini

    I’ve had this happen to me before–where I was the loneliest person in the book universe. I just didn’t get it. I haven’t read it, but it seems as if your considerations have merit. Now I have to go check out what all these other folks are saying…my curiosity. Hang in there.

  4. Grace @ Rebel Mommy Book Blog

    Oh man!! That is disappointing. I am still going to read it but maybe turn down my expectations. Sorry this wasn’t better for you!!

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