Since I quite enjoyed reading Jennifer Niven’s “All the Bright Places” I thought I’d give this one here a try as well and I frankly do not regret that choice.
Holding up the universe seems to me like your typical y/a book. A bit cheesy, a bit missing in depth and a bit sugar-coated, yet it still addresses issues every teenager has to deal with during that insecure phase of finding out who you are and who you want to be.
I guess everybody knows the scary feeling you get when you’re in school and simply dreading of doing just one wrong thing which could ruin your reputation and as result make your school life feel like hell itself.
Sadly, bullying still is an issue in today’s high schools and it literally can happen to anyone, no matter the size, the hair, the religion or the style. But Jennifer Niven went for extreme cases with Libby once being America’s fattest teen and Jack not being able to recognize faces, and that’s what I liked so much about this book. The main characters both have to deal with, let’s say, unusual problems, hence the fear of sticking out, of being the different one is all-time present, at least at the beginning, but as the story continues they step by step lose their insecurities, which showed that both of them are more than media ( in Libby’s case) and the image he created ( in Jack’s case), namely people like everybody else, with family problems, friends and most importantly their own story to tell.
Also, I very much liked Dusty and his way of staying who he is, even though he has to find out about the cruelty of life at quite an early age. It was hurtful to read when he came home the first day of school and had that talk with his brother since it seemed as if he would retreat into himself, which would have been such a waste because despite his young age, that guy has more guts than a lot of grown-ups have these days and everyone reading this book could learn so much from him.
So, to wrap this all up the message you could take from Holding up the universe is: Be who you are, believe in yourself and your dreams, surround yourself with people who genuinely love and respect the real you and don’t let the negativity of shitty people get to you.