Sunday, October 9, 2016
55. Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
2016, Knopf Books for Young Readers
Goodreads rating: 4.04 - 2571 ratings
My rating: 3
Setting: Contemporary America
First line/s: (From Libby's POV) "If a genie popped out of my bedside lamp, I would wish for these three things: my mom to be alive, nothing bad or sad to ever happen again, and to be a member of the Martin VanBuren High School Damsels, the best drill team in the tristate area."
My comments: This has been a difficult one for me to rate. I listened to it being read by two wonderful readers, and that wa a highlight for me. They made the characters become more than real. I wonder how I would have felt if I had read it without the expression they used ... I feel like the characters would've been flatter. Libby, particularly, just didn't seem real to me. I know what it's like being big. And she's a high schooler, hasn't been around a single peer in five years...and she's got this great positive attitude? She lets very little bother her, including the incredible bullying that's being constantly thrown at her? She doesn't seem to suffer at all (or at least a believable amount). She has a fantastic sense of humor. She's incredibly articulate. In spite of her bulk she's a graceful, energetic dancer. All super positive stuff. AND she gets the hot guy. I would love to feel that a girl like her - one who had to be cut out of her house because she weighed 600 pounds (!) - with no friends, not one - would and could go on with life the way she did. But I can't.
The bullying was totally believable. But so many other parts of the book were not. I'm a sucker for everything working out well, and this one did - which made me happy, of course. But it just wasn't real enough for me. And that's even without considering the impossibility of Jack going through life without anyone ever realizing he had such an incredible neurological problem...
I did enjoy listening, and I think, considering my personal reaction the average of 5 and 1 is 3....
Goodreads synopsis: 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, 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.