HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE by Jennifer Niven (Book Review)


388 Pages

Oh, I had heard rumors through the grape vine about this author and All the Bright Places and how she likes to make characters based off of stereotypes or something like that.

When I ordered this book, I wasn’t entirely aware that this was the same author, as I have never read ATBP. But, when I did find out it was the same author, I was honestly excited to see what this book had to offer.

I, myself, have struggled with weight and know what it’s like to go through mass weight loss, so I was super interested to see how this was going to be handled through one of the characters.

The other character in this book seemed interesting, too. Plus, it seemed like a cute love story of finding out who you really are.

Well, here’s what have to say about all of that bullsh*t.

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 in new and bad-ass ways, 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. (from Amazon)


If you can’t tell already, I have a lot to say about this novel.

Let’s start with the positive.

I could not put this book down. This book is so, so hard to stop reading. I remember being in the car, thinking maybe 30 minutes went by, checking my page count, and seeing I had flown through 50 pages.

That. Never. Happens. To. Me.

The writing is very good (style wise), and very easy to follow.

In fact, this is the only book it has ever happened to where I had something negative to say about it.

Let’s get with some broad topics first.

1.) Has the author ever actually been to high school?

Here’s a direct quote from the book.

“He’s not exactly a model student, and there was that one time junior year . . . when he and Dave Kaminski kidnapped a freshman and locked him on the roof outside . . .”

– Holding Up the Universe; Jennifer Niven

Kidnapped? Are you kidding me?

I don’t know about where Jennifer Niven lives, but here, on Earth, kidnapping is illegal and you get arrested for it.

2.) The “cute” scenes are atrocious.

I say, “You look great.”

She cocks her head at me. “Are you flirting with me, Jack Masselin?”

-Holding up the Universe; Jennifer Niven

“Oh, I like your shirt.”

“aRe yoU FLirTing wIth mE???!?!??!?!?!!”

Now, let’s go to the more specific, main reason I’m so upset after reading this book.

I feel sorry that these characters had and are going through this, but I’m even more sorry that Niven was the one who decided to narrate their lives.

1.) Both of these characters are filling a huge stereotype.

Libby, the “fat” girl who just wants to be seen.

Jack, the jock who has a secret.

2.) Every character is defined by their weight.

Not only is the “mirror” trope done multiple times in this work, everyone described seems to be personalized by their weight.

Oh, they’re fat thus they are the nicest person in the world.

Oh, they’re skinny, thus they’re a huge bitch.



There is a scene where Jack is dancing with Libby, and he describes it as “having all that woman” (yes, italicized), and I nearly chucked the book out of the car window.

Is that supposed to be flattering?

While I know he doesn’t know this, but with as much as Libby has been through at this point in the book, I’m pretty sure she would have socked him in the face if she had heard this out loud.

DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED. They, kid you not, were playing “fat girl rodeo” and everyone acts like this is a funny and happens in real life high school? Are you kidding me?

I’m just going to end this rant saying, the way the author handles these situations and writes like she briefly skimmed the Wikipedia articles for “obesity” and “prosopagnosia” is just skimming the surface of why you should never read this garbage.


Untitled design

Don’t buy this book.



10 thoughts on “HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE by Jennifer Niven (Book Review)

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