Holding Up the Universe

holding-up-the-universeEveryone 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. Since her mom’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. 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 a 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. 

Well, the synopsis will almost actually give you what happened in the story (I really don’t like the idea of putting a synopsis at the back cover! It will pretty much spoil some of it!)

I love the characters of Libby and Jack, both of them have issues they need to face. Libby (as was stated in the synopsis), was dubbed America’s fattest teen (she was 13 that time, 653 pounds), she was popular because she was on every news after rescuers drilled a large hole in their house just to bring her out. Now, she lost weight (302 pounds to be exact) and is ready to go back to school. First few days were fine until that cruel high school game.

Jack, on the other hand, has Prosopagnosia (1. an inability to recognize the faces of familiar people, typically as  a result of damage to the brain;  2. when everyone is a stranger.) He wakes everyday not knowing the faces of his family members, he can’t even remember his face! He got this when he fell from the roof of their house (15ft). He did not tell anyone about this – even his family don’t know anything about it. Until he wrote a letter addressed to the person he will choose for the game – he mentioned about prosopagnosia and said that he was really sorry for doing the shitty thing.

Jack and Libby met because of the game that the friends of Jack initiated, called “Fat Girl Rodeo”; they will pick some fat girl and throw themselves around her like riding a bull. They will hold on as tight as they can and really squeeze the shit out of her, and whoever holds on the longest, wins. Jack picked Libby and decided to do it in the school cafeteria.. both of them ended up in a group counseling. It is in this group that they began to know each other and Libby (having received the letter from Jack which he dropped on Libby’s bag before doing the fat girl rodeo) slowly understands what Jack is going through. Together, they face these issues that were bothering them.

I like how the story was written – Jack’s POV and Libby’s POV. The ending was also okay, not heartbreaking as “all the bright places.” I really love the character of Libby’s dad, how he was very supportive and was so loving to Libby. I also love Jack in a way that he loves his brother so much and how protective he was of him.

Overall, this story was okay. It talks about problems and facing them. It talks about how to leave the past behind. This story is about friendship, acceptance, love and family.

What struck me most is the concept of Bullying/Discrimination. I love how Libby faced those hurtful comments and showed everyone that whatever and whoever you are, you are wanted.

People are shitty for a lot of reasons. Sometimes they’re just shitty people. Sometimes people have been shitty to them and, even though they don’t realize it, they take that shitty upbringing and go out into the world and treat others the same way. Sometimes they’re shitty because they’re afraid. Sometimes they choose to be shitty to others before others can be shitty to them.

 

 

 

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