Berk Reviews ~ Holding Up the Universe ~ Jennifer Niven

Posted 27 November, 2018 by Brandee @ (un)Conventional Bookworms in Reviews / 8 Comments

Berk Reviews ~ Holding Up the Universe ~ Jennifer NivenHolding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
Published by Alfred A. Knopf Books on October 4, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Pages: 391
Format: Hardback
Source: Purchase
4 Stars

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.

Contemporary - (un)Conventional Bookviews


The following review of Holding Up the Universe is courtesy of my younger daughter, Berk. Back when I was blogging solo I occasionally put my kids, who are all avid readers, to work 😉 by having them write reviews. This review is one I had leftover and since Berk really enjoyed Holding Up the Universe I thought I’d share her thoughts with you.


What I Liked:

  • The characters were well developed with strong backgrounds.
  • The story conveyed a more realistic version of high school.
  • The way Niven dealt with anxiety was well done and much needed in teen literature.


What I Liked Less:

  • The love element between Libby and Jack seemed forced and I didn’t feel like it was necessary for the story.
  • There were unrealistic elements in the characters’ backgrounds. These elements were good for the story but were unrelatable.


Overall, Holding Up the Universe was really good. I picked it because it was on a list of stories that were supposed to be “life changing.” I don’t know that it was life changing for me but it dealt with teen topics that need more awareness brought to them such as self-love, being valued for who you are, anxiety, and self image.

Brandee @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

About Brandee @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

Brandee is a mom of 3 and a soon-to-be empty nester. She is also an avid reader, a genre omnivore, and a compulsive one-clicker - but she's in recovery. Besides being a reader, she's also a writer and hopes to divide the vast quantities of spare time she'll soon have between reading and finally publishing her first book.

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8 responses to “Berk Reviews ~ Holding Up the Universe ~ Jennifer Niven

  1. This does sound pretty different for teen fiction. I enjoyed reading Berk’s thoughts on the book. Really thought out. The author may have though it needed a romance? I don’t know. Glad she liked it Brandee!

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