The Weight of the World

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We’ve all got something secret going on in our lives that plays a major role in who we are and how we present ourselves to the world. In Jennifer Niven’s Holding Up the Universe, two teens deal with their insecurities and secrets while also forming a bond with each other.

Libby Strout, who was once graced with the title of “America’s Fattest Teen” when she had to be lifted out of her house by a crane, is rejoining public school and life after much dedicated work to get healthier. Jack Masselin carries himself with a lot of confidence, which he doesn’t really believe because he’s face-blind and can’t recognize anyone without their specific identifiers. Trying to save face with his friends, Jack takes part in an emotionally vicious game called “Fat Girl Rodeo,” hugging onto Libby’s body…until she punches him. Earning themselves time in a counseling and community service program at their school, Jack and Libby spend more time getting to know one another while also learning that they are able to easily relate to one another.

The writing in this is strong, with a gradual reveal of the characters’ inner lives, and the inner turmoil that is depicted for each of the characters makes you rethink whatever preconceived notions you might have about people you encounter every day. The alternating perspective chapters are brief, which keeps the story moving along at a rather rapid pace and gets you into the head of both Jack and Libby. I wasn’t too keen on the fact that Jack and Libby have strong convictions to behave in certain ways when it comes to other people but they don’t take action on their own advice – it’s incredibly frustrating, even if it’s an attempt at making them seem even more human.

Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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