Holding Up the Universe
Libby used to be the fat girl who had to be lifted out of her house by crane (as per Gilbert Grape), but now she’s just a ‘regular’ fat girl attending the local high school and trying to live down her past. Jack just wants to keep continuing on being the sort of popular guy – but he’s hiding a secret that will continue to affect his whole life.
Libby connected with me really strongly and left a lasting impression for me. She’s a strong female protagonist that nevertheless needs support from her family, friends and a counsellor. No woman is an island, and Libby is no exception.
Ok, so how about Jack? I think Niven gets inside the mind of a teenage boy exceptionally well, and presents a well balanced character who has individual flaws (and a very interesting ‘weakness’). I’d never heard of the ‘weakness’ he has, and it is really quite fascinating to read about. I think YA fiction novels at the moment are doing a great job of removing stigma around various disabilities and it’s fantastic.
The plot. It keeps you reading, it has some fantastic twists that the reader sees coming (most of the time) and that the characters don’t see at all. Although you might think you know what is going to happen next, or what horrible thing another person might do, you really have no idea at all. I was satisfied and couldn’t put the novel down.
I’m going to say that this novel deserves a place in my favourite YA novels of fiction that deals with difficult issues. If you liked FanGirl, Any Other Night or Caramel Hearts, this novel is going to satisfy you. Niven has written another novel, All the Bright Places, that I haven’t gotten my hands on yet – it might actually be a requested novel for me for Christmas now. 5 stars for this one, and I look forward to getting the chance to read another similar.
Penguin | 6 October 2016 | AU $17.99 | Paperback