January 9, 2018

The Book Club One with Holding Up the Universe

After reading my first Jennifer Niven book, I was very curious about her other works. I got on OverDrive, looked her up, and found my second book of the year. Going into it, I knew nothing about the book, which is the entry point I prefer.
I've got my Malbec and Gouda ready.
Shall we book club?


Jennifer Niven is a wizard at writing from the perspective of high schoolers. This was her second book in the young adult fiction category, and I just thought the entire time, how many high schoolers did she interview to get this so right? Or maybe she is really just so good at writing that she just pulled from her own high school experience? But to write this as a forty-something is extremely impressive to me.  I couldn't write as my high school self. Even if I actually wanted to get into that headspace, I couldn't, but that's probably a good thing.
I also decided while reading this book that if someone had to write a story about my life, I would want it to be Jennifer Niven.  I feel like she could write my perspective better than I could myself.
Like All the Bright Places, Holding Up the Universe explores two perspectives that were very interesting, especially from the point of view of high schoolers: an overweight girl and a boy with prosopagnosia (face blindness). After learning about prosopagnosia, I realized that I live my life like everyone has face blindness.  I usually assumed that people do not recognize me.  So if you see me in public, and I don't come up to you, this is why. Next to learning about prosopagnosia, Libby is my favorite part of this book. She is unapologetically herself, and I think that is beautiful. 
I will say that, compared to All the Bright Places, this book felt a bit forced.  Everything happened just a little bit too in line for my liking. Why did Jack have to tell Libby that he was face blind in order to apologize for what he was going to do? The ending wasn't very satisfying either. What happens with Jack's family and life? Libby's storyline seems to come to a definitive ending by summing up everything that happens with her while she sips cider with a friend at the park, but Jack's storyline seems to leave pretty much everything open except for Libby.  Maybe Niven's publishers were really pushing her to write a book in a similar style to All the Bright Places, and this was the result.
Regardless of my issues with Holding Up the Universe, I am still in love with Jennifer Niven's writing style.  I like that she puts so much of herself into her characters, and that she included Boy Parade in both books like the stories occur in the same world. In All the Bright Places, Violet shares an experience and feelings that Jennifer actually went through. And in Holding Up the Universe, Libby and the author share the same love for dancing and the television show Supernatural.
So while I would still give her writing style five stars, I give Holding Up the Universe four. I would definitely recommend it, because it is from two points of view that I would never be able to understand otherwise. However, I probably won't circle back to read it again.
★★★★☆

Up Next: Velva Jean Learns to Drive
By: (you guessed it) Jennifer Niven

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