A.R.C. Review: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

*All opinions stated in this review are my own*

TitleHolding Up the Universe

Author: Jennifer Niven

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Date of Publication:October 4th 2016

Publisher:Knopf Books for Young Readers

Pages:Hardcover, 400 pages

Summary: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.


At Bookcon 2016, the friend who I was with was desperate to find an A.R.C. of Holding Up the Universe. When All the Bright Places was being praised by bloggers everywhere, I appear to have missed out on that trend. I, shamefully, never read the popular novel by Jennifer Niven. However, I am proud to say that I have read Holding Up the Universe.

This being my first novel written by Jennifer, I am pleasantly surprised. At first, I was skeptical because of the backlash that followed the novel’s initial description. Apparently, people thought the description was offensive which made me hesitant about reading it. Since I got the book, I decided to give it a try.

The book is not offensive at all. In fact, the book is a beautiful example of accepting who you are and how two unlike people can support each other. Jennifer Niven did an astounding job creating the story. The book will be a great read for young adults because it teaches many important lessons.

One lesson that it taught is that nothing can stop you from living your life. Libby is an example of this lesson because she manages to move on after the loss of her mother and her accident. Libby loses weight and returns to school despite her fears. She overcomes the bullying and focuses on herself.

Another lesson is self-love. Libby embraces her body and understands the effort that was taken in order for her to lose the weight. Also, Libby stands in front of everyone in a bikini to show people that she is wanted and that she is beautiful.

Finally, Jennifer teaches that you cannot use your faults to justify your bad decisions. Through Jack, it is shown that you cannot use your weaknesses as reasons for your mistakes. Eventually, you have to take responsibility for yourself.

Despite the many positive messages in the book, there are other aspects of the book that I liked. The main aspect that I found enjoyable was that Jennifer was able to successfully make readers understand what the characters were going through. Her constant emphasis on how someone with face blindness viewed the world made it easier to understand Jack’s situation. Also, we are able to understand Libby better with flashbacks to her mom’s death and the accident.

Another thing that I enjoyed was Jennifer’s writing style. The novel was easy and fun to read. The use of lists in the novel showed readers the characters’ thoughts.

Finally, I loved Jack. His situation was interesting to read about. Also, his point of view was captivating. In all honesty, he is the character that I feel made the book so great. I believe that Jennifer focuses more on Jack rather than the rest of the characters.

Despite greatly enjoying most of the book, there were a few things that I disliked. The major issue that I had with the book was that, besides Jack, the characters seemed flat. Some characters seemed hard to relate to.

Another thing that I disliked was the slightly forced chemistry between Jack and Libby. They do not appear to be a romantic relationship but rather a friendship. Their feelings felt rushed and not established well.

Overall, the book was very fun and interesting to read. I believe that this book is a positive read. Jennifer teaches many important lessons in the story.

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Rules For 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern

Rules For 50/50 Chances is a unique read. I have never read about the topic of Huntington Disease.

In my biology class, we learned about genetic disorders. One of the dominant genetic disorders that we focused on was Huntington’s Disease. When learning about it, I did feel sympathy for the people suffering from the disease. However, when learning about it, we didn’t go over it great detail. We never learned how badly it affects your life.

Reading Rules For 50/50 Chances, you learn about Huntington’s Disease from a daughter of a victim. You read about it as if you are experiencing the pain firsthand. You realize how brutal people have it.

Seeing Rose watch her mother slowing deteriorate from the disease was heartbreaking. You watch as her mother became something different from who she was. You saw how the disease affected the rest of the family. You witnessed the anxiety that Rose faced when she realized she could find out if she has the trait.

The plot was okay. I loved how family and friend oriented the story was. Rose’s constant battle between whether she should do things was annoying but was related.

The characters were extremely diverse! Not only was there characters of differents races and religions, the story addresses the diversity well. I loved most characters but not Rose. She was a pitiful character. Despite Caleb’s family’s battle with Sickle Cell disease, Rose tried to make him feel inferior to her when it came to messed up genes. Hello, Rose, it is not a competition! Another annoying trait was she never makes up her mind. The story spends chapters going back-and-forth about a single topic.

Overall, the story is enjoyable. It gives you amazing insight into Huntington’s disease.

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

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A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall is a unique love story. With adorable characters, an intriguing plot, and an unusual writing style, A Little Something Different is a refreshing read!

The story takes place over a span of a year and is in many points of view. From a creative writing professor to a squirrel, everyone secretly wishes that Lea and Gabe would get together. Over a long time frame, readers hear from fourteen different points of view that all hold the same opinion. Will Lea and Gabe get together in the end? Find out in this adorable story!

Overall, A Little Something Different features a great set of characters. Sandy Hall has an incredible gift that allows her to switch points of view with ease. Readers will enjoy how different each characters’ minds are. Another thing that I found intriguing was how she gave nonhumans their own thoughts. However, certain aspects of the nonhumans felt odd. For example, the semi-pervish bench.

The plot of A Little Something Different was fun to read. I love the idea of two people who are meant to be together but aren’t. It was fun to see how frustrated the characters would get when Lea and Gabe would not admit their feelings. Another interesting aspect of the story was that the main characters never had their own point of view, but the supporting roles did. I feel like this feature of the book added more intensity to the plot. My only complaint about the story was that the climax of the story happened really late in the plot.

Overall, A Little Something Different does stand out from other love stories in a remarkable way. While reading this story, readers will be screaming in frustration for Lea and Dave’s romance along with the other characters.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

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This. Book. Is. Fantastic.

As many of you may know, The Rest of Us Just Live Here was my most anticipated release of 2015. Unfortunately, I did not actually get it until a few weeks after its release date. I had mixed emotions about reading it after receiving it. What if I hated it? What if it was a terrible book that I spent most of the year swooning over? Luckily the book did not disappoint!

The main complaint I had read on Goodreads about this book was that it lacked action. Going into the story, I had extremely low expectations for it being action-packed because, after all, it is a story about the non-chosen ones.

The story follows a group of seniors as they try to live out their normal lives while the indie kids keep dying. The story is in Mikey’s, a boy who is suffering from OCD and the constant feeling of being the least wanted in his group of friends, point of view. Despite being told from Mikey’s life, we meet his sister, Mel, as well. Jared is another main character in this story who is Mikey’s best friend and possibly the god of cats. Even though I loved all the other characters, I did not like Henna. Henna is Mikey’s love interest who constantly leads him on throughout the story.

The story is told in two different styles: one section of the book is dedicated specifically to humorously talk about the Indie Kids and the other is told from Mikey about his friends. Ness beautifully portrays what it is like to almost be the hero but never make the cut. To stand in the background as others are chosen for leads. Overall, Ness gave me a story that made me feel less alone.

With a beautiful writing style, personal and diverse characters, and a heart-warming story, The Rest of Us Just Live Here will make you fall in love.

ARC Review: Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

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I am at a loss for words because of this beautiful book! Sword and Verse won the title of my favorite fantasy read of 2015 despite its actual release in 2016. Not only has it won my favorite fantasy read of 2015, Sword and Verse is on my top 5 books of the year list as well!

Why do I love Sword and Verse as much as I do? Including everything you need for a great story, who could not love this book. Sword and Verse features many well-developed characters that bring life to the story. Not only were the characters full of life, the book feature a great amount of diversity!

However, the book was not solely focused on character. Like the plot and characters, the romance in the story was fantastic! Raisa and Mati were adorable! I could not stop reading about their romance!

Finally, I loved MacMillan’s writing style! You could see the talent and effort that the author put into Sword and Verse. The writing style matches the story beautifully.

Overall, Sword and Verse is a fantastic story accompanied by beautiful characters. Once you pick up this book, you will not want to put it down!