Holding Up the Universe – book review

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Holding Up the Universe
by Jennifer Niven
Realistic Fiction
* * * * Stars (Great!)

Libby Strout was the girl who had to be cut out of her own house when she ballooned up to 653 pounds and earned herself the title of “America’s Fattest Teen.”  Jack Masselin grew up across the street from Libby (before she moved) and has become the cool, suave guy.  He’s also just discovered there’s a name for the condition he’s been keeping a secret – prosopagnosia – but no cure for his faceblindness.  Libby re-enters public school, years later and 302 pounds lighter, and their paths cross again when Jake’s friends start up a cruel game of fat-girl rodeo.  Jake thinks he’s putting an end to it when he “rides” Libby, but doesn’t count on her fighting back.  Which she does.  It lands them both in hot water at school (detention), where they have to attend Conversation Circle to work through their differences (along with other students who have broken the rules).  An unlikely friendship springs up between them – especially after they start talking and Libby learns Jack’s secret.  They have a lot more in common than they think, and maybe even the fluttery butterfly stirrings of love.  How is THAT going to work out?  This is a funny and heart-breaking look at a seriously awkward first-love scenario with a strikingly oddball couple with some big issues to surmount.  Told from Libby and Jack’s alternating points of view with distinct voices.  Fascinating from start to finish.  Libby’s strength and personality are AMAZING.

Reviewed by YA Librarian