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Holding Up the Universe

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  45,279 ratings  ·  6,199 reviews
From the author of the New York Times bestseller 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,
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published April 4th 2016)
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Heather I haven't read the book, but I hope what they mean is that the character *feels* as though he is "broken," because he feels insecure about the…moreI haven't read the book, but I hope what they mean is that the character *feels* as though he is "broken," because he feels insecure about the condition, but that he eventually learns to see himself in a different way. Teenagers with disabilities, or who are in any way "different" from their peers, often feel insecure or ashamed of the thing that makes them a bit different, even though there is not need to be. Learning that having a disability/something that's out of the "norm" about you does NOT mean that you are "broken," or "less than," is often part of growing up. I hope that the arch for this character involves the realization that he is not, in fact, broken; not that the novel itself reinforces his belief in that falsehood.(less)
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Lotte Versteegen
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Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  45,279 ratings  ·  6,199 reviews

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Emily May
“Maybe no boy will love me or want to touch me ever, even in a dark room, even after an apocalypse when all the skinny girls have been wiped off the earth by some horrible plague. Maybe one day I can be thinner than I am now and have a boyfriend who loves me, but I’ll still be a liar.”

I was going to give this book two stars because, honestly, it started well. It was compelling and didn't seem as offensive as the blurb had been, but the more I think about it, the more that doesn't seem to be en
05/05/2016: WE HAVE A COVER <3!!!!

My reaction to everyone saying this book is offensive....
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At first I wasn't going to say anything but then the comments and review updates on here and Twitter started to really hit a nerve with me. So HERE WE GO.

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To everyone saying that this book/synopsis is offensive, how about we stop and take a moment to consider the fact that A) Maybe she didn't write the synopsis B) Maybe it's how the character feels about herself C) Maybe, just maybe this is som
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Welcome to the internet in the year 2016. Where a simple book blurb broke the internet for a few days. A teenage girl who was rescued from her house because her weight kept her a prisoner. Then through in a statement about how she is returning to high school aka..the real world after being homeschooled.
commercial photography locations

I KNOW!! Let's all run and one star and bash the book.


And all you guys thought I was the biggest bully on here didn't you?

Because I had (for once) stopped to think about what the book mea
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
You know I don't care what anyone thinks, I just loved the hell out of this book! I happy cried so many times in this book. And there will probably be some *SPOILERS* I don't know, my feels right now are out of control.


This review is going to be all over the place because I'm crazy and that's just the way it is.

I love Libby so much! In this book she has so much courage. Even when she was low and things hurt her, she had courage like no one I know. Those hateful, horrible kids said some of the
Ninoska Goris
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leido-2017, ya
Español - English

La historia está narrada desde los puntos de vista de Libby y Jack.

Libby hace varios años y siendo una niña sufrió una pérdida muy grande en su vida, lo que la llevó a comer para llenar el vacío de su corazón. Llegó a ser "La chica más gorda de América" y después de muchas terapias y de años estudiando desde la casa vuelve a la escuela. Tendrá que probar muchas veces que es mucho más que su peso.

Jack desde hace años sufre una terrible condición que lo obliga a estar todo el tiem
Jan 09, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1-star, 2017-read

I read All the Bright Places last year and ended up dnfing it because I had huge problems with basically every aspect of it. I’m actually really proud of myself for finishing this even though I did skim read the last 25% of it. Honestly, when this book first came out I saw the authors name and instantly avoided this book. However, after seeing a lot of people give it 5 stars – despite all of the problematic aspects I had seen – I decided to pick this book up for the roast.

C.G. Drews
This was equal parts special and frustrating for me. But definitely more emphasis on the special. There were moments when my Vulcan soul FAILED ME COMPLETELY and I turned into a mush of squishy feels. FEEEEEEEELS. I think Jennifer Niven is a WIZARD OF FEELS STABBING and I love her for it. Omg. I did love this book. I did. But there were several things that made me pout in a puddle but I'll get to them in a moment. PATIENCE, GRASSHOPPER.

Also: this is not as devastating as All the Bright Places. h
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
REREAD! I fell in love with this book allll over again! I adore Libby. I adore what she stands for. I love what this book stands for. The hope it instills. How personal it is to the author and how appreciative I am that she shared her story with us. I'm rooting for this book! I'm rooting for myself. I'm rooting for all the readers who have ever felt less than. As Libby would say about herself, ‘I am magic!’, and so, as are you.

Initial review!
I'm sure a lot of you will remember the ton of backla
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars!

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Holding Up the Universe was an interesting and moving read with complex characters and a unique storyline. I listened the the audio version of this book and once I hit play, I didn’t want to stop. When I read All the Bright Places earlier this year, I had the same feeling of being hooked. I’m happy to report the author was able to pull this off not once, but twice.

Our story centers around Libby Strout and Jack Masselin. Libby is formally ‘America’s Fattest Teen’. She’s spent a lot of
Steph Sinclair
Edit: Looks like they updated the synopsis.


I hope this book is less offensive than the synopsis.
Aj the Ravenous Reader
“I know what you’re thinking- if you hate it so much and it’s such a burden, just lose the weight, and then that job will go away. But I’m comfortable where I am. I may lose more weight. I may not. But why should what I weigh affect other people? I mean unless I’m sitting on them, who cares?”

To be honest, I was not a fan of All the Bright Places and I wouldn’t have been this curious about Holding Up the Universe had it not been for the controversy that erupted long before its release. But th
Charnell (Reviews from a Bookworm)
I don't usually rate before reading but I am doing it here. If others who haven't read it can give it a 1 based on a synopsis, then I feel free to rate it a 5/5 before reading.

I have a few questions:

1. Why are people getting annoyed and commenting that a 'skinny' author shouldn't be writing about a 'fat' person?!? Are we saying that authors should only write about what they are? No more white authors writing about anything other than a white character then. George R.R. Martin please stop publish
For everyone who felt that this book is offensive and fat-shaming and trying to garner attention by portraying cognitive disorder - PLEASE KNOW THAT, THIS IS AN #OWNVOICES STORY. JENNIFER NIVEN HERSELF HAD OBESITY ISSUES AND THE PROSOPAGNOSIA PLOT-POINT WAS INSPIRED BY SOMEONE SHE PERSONALLY KNEW. You’d know this if you read the Author’s note. And let’s all give the author space to write about what she wants. Thanks.

image source: Patty's review

Holding Up The Universe is narrated in the point of
i received an advance copy of this book from the author.

let me begin by saying i wrote my first review of this book nearly 6 months ago. i have been anticipating this book since i finished all the bright places in march of last year. i have been waiting for this copy to show up on my front porch, eagerly, for a month. atbp was one of my favorite reads of last year and the book that got me into reading, the book that fills the first posts of my bookstagram account.

so my expectations were high.

Ben Alderson
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyable read from Jennifer.
It touched your feels completely differently way compared to All the bright places.
I really enjoyed the characters in this book, completely filled with diversity.

This is an important lesson to teens, be tolerable and don't follow the crowds.
may ❀
There are many things that irritate me about this book, but irritate is a strong word compared to how I feel, because honestly, I just feel so INDIFFERENT towards everything and everyone

And that’s probably why this tragedy happened. If you’re looking for the problem*tic aspects of this book, idk it didn’t really find it to be offensive.


- Personally, I LOVED all the bright places, like it killed me with the ending and I felt so sad inside but I also loved it
- But this book was kinda a let down
Jan 22, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: cant-wait
EDIT #4: AHH love the cover! It's minimalistic but aesthetic and I can imagine how nice it will look in real life :)

EDIT #3:Well, they changed the synopsis! And I actually like it much better. It has me much more excited now! Yay ^-^

EDIT #2: Okay, I can't stand it anymore. I'm writing another edit. So many really popular reviewers--that have thousands of people following them--have written such terrible things about how "offensive" the synopsis sounds and how this book was ever even written by a
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

3.5 Stars

“Remember this: YOU ARE WANTED. Big, small, short, pretty, plain, friendly, shy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, not even yourself.

Especially not yourself.”

So this is the super offensive book that no one wanted to read due to a reference in the blurb about how the main character was so fat she had to be removed from her house with a crane. Have none of y’all ever seen My 600 Pound Life???? This wasn’t “fat shaming,” it
Elyse Walters
I wanted to 'feel' emotions like I did in "All The Bright Places". I was sooooo in the mood for a "All in the Bright Places" repeat-type-experience---that the disappointment that I wasn't going to have my desire filled, only added to my already blue mood I've been in this week. It's not the author fault.

I've read a couple of other books about Prosopagnosia (not having the ability to recognize faces of familiar people). One was a non- fiction book. The other was a fiction- mystery-thriller story
may ➹
Disappointment and I have become very acquainted over these past few months and I’d just like it to go away for one second so I can go back to blindly loving books again!! I’ve been wanting to read Holding Up the Universe since forever, despite all the pROblemATIc !!! things I heard about it. I thought it genuinely would be a good book and instead… yikes.


- The main problem with this book is that the characters are developed SOLELY by the things that makes them “different”. Libby is
Larry H
Oct 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm between 3.5 and 4 stars on this one.

Don't go into reading Jennifer Niven's new novel, Holding Up the Universe , thinking this is going to be identical to the phenomenal All the Bright Places (which made my list of the best books I read last year), in tone or the emotional power of its subject matter. I don't say this to denigrate Niven's new book in any way—I think with this book she set out to tell a different and more personal story, yet one with slightly more universal themes.

"You know
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah, this book... What a sweet love story.

First, the diversity. The heroine, Libby, is fat (though she used to be fatter) and Jack is Black and has a condition that makes him unable to recognize anyone, even friends or the people he loves.

I hope you're not shocked by my blunt description of Libby. If you are, I suggest you do not read this book, because it talks about weight extensively, and Libby is indeed overweight. Although, while this affects her life, she is happy with the fat she lost and
Jan 26, 2016 marked it as to-read
just gonna say my opinion, how is the author being offensive towards overweight people? we ALL know overweight people can often be picked on for their size, and if anything the author could just be showing how highschoolers can be horrible and judgemental, and the protagonist is beat down by it, but gets back up and goes back to face old tormentors. which i think is a great way to tell people who deal with bullying that IT CAN GET BETTER, it may take time, but it can happen if you get the right ...more
So glad that the fifteen year old me didn't read this then I would've been all like "oh I'm fat but my life won't get better until I find a hot guy lol". I see no point in the whole story.
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone, I guess.
***Actual Rating: 3.5/5 Jabby Stars***

”I want you to know I’m rooting for you.”

It’s interesting that how little time(1~2 days) I spent devouring 84% of the book but I had a hard time(3 days) swallowing the last 16%. Although it’s not entirely a negative sign, it’s indeed something worth discussing about for me.

Libby Strout is a girl who never stopped eating for 3 years after her mother died accidentally when she was 10 and she got the reputation of “America’s Fattest Teen” before she was c
Rachel Reads Ravenously
4 stars!

“Dear friend, You are not a freak. You are wanted. You are necessary. You are the only you there is. Don’t be afraid to leave the castle. It’s a great big world out there. Love, a fellow reader”

This book shocked me with how much I enjoyed it! Holding Up the Universe is about Libby and Jack. A couple years back Libby had gained so much weight that she needed to be rescued from her house to be saved. Jack has a secret, he cannot recognize faces, not even his own.

The two become conne
Brian Yahn
From the description, it sounded like All the Bright Places meets Bone Gap -- which sign me the fuck up!

But in practice, I couldn't get past the first 10%. It seemed like Jennifer Niven spent the whole time trying to convince me these characters were interesting, rather than them actually being interesting. It wasn't that the story was bad, it's just that--after reading All the Bright Places--I have such high regard of Jennifer Niven that I didn't want this to ruin it.

Think I'll try Velva Jean L
Norma * Traveling Sister
3.5 stars / Audiobook / Enjoyable Narrators

I think I need to refrain from reading / listening to YA novels for a little while so with that being said I am not going to review this one.
Initial reaction reading this book: I don't know if I'm angry at this book as much as I am just completely left exhausted and drained by this book, and not even in a fulfilling way. (I mean, I've been left completely gutted by Courtney Summers and Lauren Oliver's narratives before, but in ways that made me feel like I identified with the weight of the character's struggles and situations, and to me, the characters they crafted were dimensional, well-thought out, and kept me reading to see what w ...more
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By the time I was ten, I had already written numerous songs, a poem for Parker Stevenson ("If there were a Miss America for men, You would surely win"), two autobiographies (All About Me and My Life in Indiana: I Will Never Be Happy Again), a Christmas story, several picture books (which I illustrated myself) featuring the Doodle Bugs from Outer Space, a play about Laura Ingalls Wilder's sister en ...more
“We're all weird and damaged in our own way. You're not the only one.” 168 likes
“Dear friend, You are not a freak. You are wanted. You are necessary. You are the only you there is. Don’t be afraid to leave the castle. It’s a great big world out there. Love, a fellow reader” 163 likes
More quotes…