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Publisher's Summary

From the author of the New York Times best-seller All the Bright Places comes a heart-wrenching story about what it means to see someone - and love someone - for who they truly are.

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 reengineer and rebuild anything in new and badass 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.

Jennifer Niven delivers another poignant, exhilarating love story about finding that person who sees you for who you are - and seeing them right back.

©2016 Jennifer Niven (P)2016 Listening Library

Critic Reviews

"[Niven] creates two indelible characters and a heart-stopping romance." ( Publishers Weekly)
"Written in short chapters of alternating perspectives, this is a thoughtful exploration of identity and self-acceptance, with commentary on overcoming adversities that will hit close to home." ( School Library Journal)

What listeners say about Holding Up the Universe

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Decent Story

It wasn't horrible, certainly, but I guess I was just expecting more. I knew the ending before the halfway point and the closer it got to the ending the more I felt the author just rushed to finish. The relationship between the main characters felt inauthentic at times, and it took some time to warm up to Jorjeana Marie's (voice of Libby) speech style and cadence. All in all it's a decent read if you're used to Jennifer's writing style and want a simple teen "love story". Definitely won't make my reread list, though.

3 people found this helpful

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Interesting Concept .. annoying story

I was so interesting to pick this up as it got so much hype across all bookish platform, and I heard a lot of praise about the writing style and the premise was so intriguing .. I never read a book from an over weight person view .. but sadly I was hugely disappointed as the story was so boring .. nothing was really happening and the short chapters made it such an uncomfortable ride for me with this book
I liked Libby's character .. she one of the best protagonists I've read in a while, but I didn't like Jack as much, I feel a little let down but I don't regret reading the book

3 people found this helpful

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We Need Diverse Books

Niven follows the movement and offers an obese heroine and a hero with prosopagnosia. In the world of YA, her writing style is engaging as was this book. Her first, All the Bright Places, was amazing. This one is interesting, but lacks the connection between the two main characters. They just started liking each other after a rather traumatizing beginning and I never understood why. Seemed a little forced.

7 people found this helpful

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EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS - YOUNG AND OLD

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Definitely!!! Because Libby wants to change the world, and everyone should know the reason why.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Holding Up the Universe?

All of them! All of the moments in this book are so big, that it's impossible to choose just one as most memorable.

Which scene was your favorite?

The end scene. But also, I was proud of Libby in her purple bikini scenes.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Oh yes. It made my heart happy, it made it sad, but mostly it made me happy to be alive, and I hope Ms. Niven's message is shouted throughout the universe. It is THAT remarkable.

Any additional comments?

This book should NOT go unread, and I think every high school should have it on their To Be Read by ALL students list.

1 person found this helpful

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You are wanted

We should all write that on ourselves. This is a story of a teenage girl who already knows who she is, a rarity in teens, and how others see her. It's also about a boy who can't see faces and how he realizes that he can see the girl. Powerful and smart story. Thankful that the fat girl doesn't need to lose weight to be better, those stories suck. Fabulous readers.

1 person found this helpful

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Good idea, not good book.

You know what’s going to happened half an hour into the book and it’s just very cliche. A few quotes from the main character are “what will my story be” and “I’m just quirky and different” very clingy.

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Good story

Story did start to drag on a little and could have been shortened somewhat.

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A shallow exploration of characters with potential

To preface, I am a fat person.

If you like fluff without much substance, I think you'll like this book.

I had high expectations for this book. I was excited for the premise. I was excited to read a story about a young girl who doesn't fit into society's standards of beauty, who was traumatized by public exposure and shaming while she was at her lowest, and finding love and self-acceptance regardless. But that girl doesn't exist.

Our main character Libby's positivity is so forced. Right from the get-go she is self-assured. Sometimes she brings up how bad her past was. Sometimes she reacts poorly in scenarios where any average person would be embarrassed or uncomfortable. There is hardly any of the "fat experience" in this book. Six hours in and not a single relatable moment from the main character. Her fatness isn't part of her character at all, and that's not a positive thing. Fat people's fatness is a part of who they are. A character like Libby should struggle and overcome in this book. Her characterization is a flat line.

Our other main, Jack, of course falls for Libby. (Conceptually it's already a little icky that the only person who seems to be attracted to Libby is one that can't recognize faces. Seems a little backwards for a book that is supposed to be empowering.) But there's no build up. There's no insight into how he feels about her body. Is he attracted to her? Is he disgusted by her physically at first but learns that this part of her isn't important? Who knows? He just goes from someone who is aware of her, then suddenly finds himself wanting to kiss her. That's it.

I tried to be very patient with this book but I opted for a refund after trudging through most of it. This is not an empowering love story. This is fake fat-positivity at its finest.

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I'm not sure

I don't know how to feel about this book. I feel like there are parts in it that are just there to scream: "LOOK AT ME IM DIVERSE" like the constant not so subtle reminders that one of the main character is indeed black, even though I feel like no one else in the story was. it's was just Jack and his brother and the rest of the cast was as white as the fallen snow.

then there were also a lot of parts that made me feel like I was being spoken down too, like when you're constantly told whenever anything bad happens to Libby that she's fat and her mom died. I KNOW

but I didn't hate the book. I'm just not sure if I would really go out of my way to recommend it to other people.

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the story

This book wasn’t too bad. I thought it would be a lot more of a tear jerker. The beginning had me thrown because i thought it was a audi idea note lol. The only reason i give it 4 stars is because the ending was a little dull, but i’m happy it ended the way it did. I think it portrayed prosopagnosia and whats it’s like to live with it very accurately even though i don’t suffer from it myself. It was a good book overall.

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  • Glenis
  • 01-05-17

Wonderfully written

I was a little apprehensive about reading this book because I'd seen quite a few bad reviews however I really enjoyed this book and thought it was a rather moving story.
the characters were engaging and unique (how many characters have you read about having prosopagnosia?)
I would recommend you give it a go.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mullika
  • 11-22-16

Highly recommend!

I heard mixed reviews so I read it unsure what to expect but it was an excellent read! Highly recommend it

2 people found this helpful

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  • lyeira
  • 11-02-16

amazing

it was amazing and i just wish it went on longer i was in love with the story

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Abbie Gill
  • 01-26-22

LOVE THIS BOOK!

This book makes me feel so happy and warm love it! Definitely recommend to anyone

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Serena
  • 01-18-22

Cute teenage love

Cute and stunning story about a fat girl and boy with special needs falling in love. Well written, little bit predictable, but still adorable.
Perfect for teenagers (although I’m 27 and still reasonably liked it)

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  • Ana Lynch
  • 05-02-21

Enjoyed the story but the book kept skipping

Had to return in the end. I've never had a problem with any other audible book like this. It kept skipping and missing bits out

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-14-20

Surprisingly real

I didn't know what I was going to make of this one, but it was good. It was gritty, and real. The characters are complex, and three dimensional, and the little details make it. The relationship Jack has with his younger brother, Dusty, is one of my favourite things.

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  • Jen Stevens
  • 05-05-20

Just gorgeous.

Loved it. It took me a few days because it was my bedtime book of choice and I kept snoozing, but it's a beautiful story, well narrated.. A proper heart warmer.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-11-19

Holding up the universe

My first impression was that the female narrator was to cherry and a little bit squeaky but as it went on it was fine and I actually think it suits the character well. Overall it was very enjoyable and easy going although at times I felt like it needed a little more excitement, I love the way Jennifer Niven always has unique characters never have I ever come across a book with a character who has face blindness it definitely shines a light onto the challenges that come with the disorder, also the way that Libby Strout was overweight and how Jack always had to search deeper into someone and how he doesn’t obviously judge a book by the cover as he can’t. Overall I love the characters and book just felt like it was a bit slow at times.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 09-30-19

Amazing from start to finish!!!! 😍😍

This book is honestly amazing from start to finish!!!! 😍😍 It is so inspiring and everyone should read/listen to it!! Also the voice of Jack really draws in your attention and is perfect for his character 😊

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-20-17

Love the book

Already started to listen to it again. Very inspiring! Only wished we could have Spotify Playlist to go with it. Or even if they had the songs in the Audiobook. When is book 2 coming?

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-17-21

What an amazing story

I loved this book. It made me feel happy. The narrators gave great voices too. 10/10

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-31-19

New Favourite!!

I loved this book!! I need more!! Such an amazing story with loveable characters! Can't wait to read it again. So sad it was over.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-25-19

beautifully book

I loved it and couldn't put down the book! it was an awesome book. It really touched my heart.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-01-19

Entertaining

The story was good but the female narrator's voice was very annoying, she sounds like a breathless child. The main female character also expected too much of the boy.