holding up the universe


DATE PUBLISHED: 6th October 2016

PAGES: 388



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 see who she really is. Since her mum’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. 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 art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a 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, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his own 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, Libby and Jack are both angry, 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.


This book is told in the first person from the alternating perspectives of Libby and Jack. The different character voices were very distinct and internal thoughts in italic print allowed an easy flow of the story. I particularly liked the lists from Jack, provided a view of his character development through the book.


The two main characters of Libby and Jack are both flawed and have major issues going on in their internal lives. Libby’s development is of acceptance of self and gaining friendships. Jack has a big secret from those close to him and his friends are less than savoury. Jack’s character slowly develops through his relationship with Libby.


Self Acceptance: Acceptance of self and what makes you unique is a strong guiding theme for both Libby and Jack. Both characters face major crises and through their development the characters aim for self acceptance.

Bullying: Bullying is a major element of this book. Many of the characters face bullying from the point of view of the victim and the on lookers. The outcomes of bullying and support of others is a guiding element of the story.

Family: Both Jack and Libby’s families play a large part in this book. Libby’s father is her support system and their relationship is amazing. Jack’s relationship with his family is more complicated but plays a major role in his character development.


I really liked this book. The overall themes and message that was the focus of the book really resonated with me. The flawed characters and overall development of these characters left me considering the book for hours after finishing. This book is a stunning book winding through the dramas of high school life, on the path to acceptance.

If nothing else is taken from this book then this message should be:

You are wanted…. you are necessary… you are loved. 






Keep Calm and Read On,



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