Holding Up the Universe

Jennifer Niven. Knopf, $17.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-385-75592-4
At first glance, the premise of Niven’s second YA novel, after All the Bright Places, seems dark and improbable: high school junior Libby Strout was once so heavy that she had to be rescued from her house by a crane, senior Jack Masselin has prosopagnosia (face blindness), and they meet when Jack—whose friends, girlfriend, and huge Afro are designed to protect the cool-guy persona he uses to disguise his condition—goes along with the horrible game of “Fat Girl Rodeo.” Libby’s size and backstory make her a target, but she can dance again, and she’s smart, brave, bitingly funny, and no one’s victim (as Jack finds out when she slugs him). Meanwhile, Jack is isolated, angry, and guilty about the compromises he has made. As the semester progresses, they suffer through detention and counseling, Libby makes friends and contends with bullying, Jack opens up to her about his face blindness, and they move—carefully—into romantic territory. Niven makes the novel’s improbable setup work, avoiding the suggestion that happiness lies in thinness as she creates two indelible characters and a heart-stopping romance. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kerry Sparks, Levine Greenberg Rostan (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/2016
Release date: 10/04/2016
Genre:
Library Binding - 400 pages - 978-0-385-75593-1
Paperback - 298 pages - 978-607-07-4023-7
Compact Disc - 978-0-7352-0750-9
Ebook - 978-0-385-75594-8
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-5094-2579-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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