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Book Review – Holding Up The Universe

Title: Holding Up The Universe

Author: Jennifer Niven

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Length: 388

Rating: 4 Star

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Description/Synopsis:

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.

Review – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

I would like to thank Penguin for sending me this book for review!

Now before I get into the actual review I sort of feel like I need to put a disclaimer on this review. I look on goodreads and I see so many people raging about this book, which seems ridiculous to me, but here we are. These are my opinions from the perspective of someone who is not seriously overweight, has not been home schooled, has no physical issues, and has NO RESEARCH on any of the issues that were discussed in this book to compare and see if they are in fact accurately portrayed.

Now that we have that rubbish out of the way, lets move on.

Much like her other book I really enjoyed Holding Up The Universe. I really enjoy Niven’s writing style and I think that she covered the topics within the book very respectfully in terms of how serious they are.

I really liked the overall theme of the story which was basically to just love yourself, and to improve yourself if you feel you need improvement and not because of what others may think would be the better you. Not only that, it also has great message that I think we as humans tend to forget a lot of the time and that is to not judge or torment or follow along with the wrongful treatment of another human being because they are different to us.

I enjoyed our main characters Libby and Jack. and thought they were very well developed and flushed out. However these were really the only characters where I thought this. All the other characters were just sort of floating around them, coming in and out of the story when something needed to be said or something needed to happen then they would fade back out again. They were not bad exactly, just not really important to the story as individuals.

Libby was a very strong characters and I loved how she was okay with herself most of the time. She was able to see how far she had come as a person and then be able to love what she had and flaunt the hell out of it despite the comments of others. Jack I liked but a lot of his issues I think could of been solved if he had of just opened his mouth about his condition at any point in time. The things he has to deal with are hard, and I cannot really related to it on that kind of level, but I feel as though he was just making it so much harder on himself by at least not telling his family. In this regards though I did like how he referred to his mum as “mum with hair up” or “mum with hair down.” Even he and Libby’s falling out at a certain part in the book would have been avoided if he would have just gone oh yeah Libby I remember who you are from before! There, so many problems solved.

This was another book I picked up as an audio book because I needed to just get it done. I didn’t mind the actors and the only real issue I had with it was that the lady who was doing Libby put on a soothing voice for her and she just sort of took it way too far. It was so ‘soothing’ that she sounded like she was heavily medicated for the whole book, but I did get used to this by the end it was a good listen.

So I think this is where I am going to leave you today. For those of you who read ATBP and enjoyed it I think you will also like this one and pick it up! For those of you who haven’t read her other book yet I think you should probably pick that one up first before this one. That one was a bit more interesting with more things happening and its probably a better place to start to get used to the topics and writing style, where this one is much more mellow.

 

Till Next Time…

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Book Review – All The Bright Places

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Title: All The Bright Places

Author: Jennifer Niven

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Mental Health

Length: 378

Rating: 4 Star

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Description/Synopsis:

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

Review – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

I received an ARC of this book early from the publishers, and I just want to make a shout out to the little bits of extra effort they put into this ARC. Part of the book contains a wall of post-it notes of things Finch finds interesting or enjoys in some way, so the publishers stuck post-its into each copy of the book they sent out to reviewers with different things that the publishers liked. I thought this was an absolutely adorable thing to do and it really touched my heart. Here are my post-its:

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Now, onto the actual book!

Now, we all know how I feel about books on suicide from when I reviewed Thirteen Reasons Why, but this book takes a different kind of look at depression why people might kill themselves. I feel I actually have had my views softened for some people who kill themselves. While with Hannah in TRW I thought it was mostly her fault for not speaking up or accepting the help offered. While in this book, I can see and feel the mental illness. Serious intervention would have to be taken to help the people in this book, and that would mean that people had to notice the signs instead of just shrugging them off. I admit that I even shrugged off some of the things that happen in this book as a character trait rather than a sign of something deeper. After reading this book I might not be so quick to jump to a negative thought about someone I heard who killed themselves.

The Parents… are insisting it was an accident, which, I guess, means we’re free to mourn out in the open in a normal, healthy, unstigmatised way. No need to be ashamed or embarrassed since suicide isn’t involved.

I think I liked all the characters in this book. I remember finding any of them disgusting in a way I did in TRW, I think most the side characters in this book just didn’t understand or didn’t notice any of the things that were going on.

The problem with people is they forget that most of the time it’s the small things that count.

Our main characters on the other hand are completely loveable. They are two completely different people, but they both come together at a moment when they were going to end it all and help each other in ways they didn’t even really know they needed help. Finch is up the bell tower deciding if this was the day he would kill himself or not, until he sees Violet there about to do the same thing, and he decides that he cannot let something so beautiful die and thusly he saves her and she saves him. He then lets the whole school think that she was up there to save his life, so that the whole school doesn’t pick on the pretty popular girl for thinking about death. I loved pretty much all their moments together. I was both jumping for joy and dying on the inside with the emotion that was created between the two.

“You asked why I wanted to do this with you. It’s not because you were up on the ledge too, even though, okay, that’s part of it. It’s not because I feel this weird responsibility to keep an eye on you, which is also part of it. It’s because you smiled at me that day in class. A real smile, not the bullshit one I see you give everyone all the time where your eyes are doing one thing and your mouth is doing another.”

“It was just a smile.”

“Maybe to you.”

The plot of this story is also very touching, and as I have stated, it taught me things. This book is only at a 4 start for me because the ending is not everything I wanted it to be. In the theme of the plot, the ending might have been very powerful, but just for me personally, it was not what I wanted from the book.

What if life could be this way? Only the happy parts, none of the terrible, not even the mildly unpleasant. What if we could just cut out the bad and keep the good? This is what I want to do with Violet – give her only the good, keep away the bad, so that good is all we ever have around us.

And there we have it guys. I don’t want to say anymore because I want your experience of the book to be just as powerful as it was for me. I reazd it months ago and I was only just now able to pull some thoughts together and give you guys a review. I strongly suggest you go get this book and be prepared for the emotions to come. I proudly display my ARC on my shelf, I will be reading this book again, and I might even go get a hardback to add to my collection. I have an interest in reading more good books on the topic and anything else the author publishes in a heartbeat.

Till Next Time…