Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven
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Jack has prosopagnosia, a disease that prevents him from recognizing people’s faces. When he looks at someone, he sees the eyes, the nose, the mouth … but he cannot put together all the pieces of the puzzle to record in his memory. He then uses identifying marks, such as hair, skin color, posing and style, to try to distinguish his friends and family. But no one knows this – until the day he finds Libby. Libby is new at school. She spent the last few years at home, piecing together the pieces of her heart after her mother’s death. The girl finally feels ready to go back to normal life, but soon in the first days of school she is subjected to a cruel joke because of her weight and goes to the principal, along with Jack. Gradually this unlikely couple emerges and together they learn to see each other in a way no one else has ever done before.
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I started putting the pieces together, but I can say that it was an emotional roller coaster and I cried! Jack has a strange disease that makes him not recognize people correctly which means that he tries everything to get the hang of it. Libby is a chubby girl who has gone through a lot of humiliation and decided to try to give humanity another chance – even if she has to give many lessons of compassion and decency.
At first the two have absolutely nothing in common, but I loved the way Jack and Libby ended up being friends and helping each other. The plot is a bit predictable, but it is exciting and gives you several lessons about not judging others and trying to be a good person. The only flaw I found was the amount of teenage high school clichés, which is a bit tiring but not so much that it spoils the amazing plot.
I had little pity for Jack because he seemed to have a perfect life for those who do not know him, but his life really was very difficult, always having to guess who are the people and at the same time trying to look like a nice guy. Still, it was a character that evolved a lot and I enjoyed the clear maturation he demonstrated.
Libby is just too much! She was my favorite character without a doubt and I could not stop laughing at her scenes. Her internal monologues and her acceptance that she would have to teach maturity to her peers were incredible. The world needs more Libbys.
The author bothered to bring some interesting people into the plot, but I felt that none of them managed to have a very complex personality. Still, I quite liked the cute Bailey, who was a true friend, and the spoiled Caroline, who was trying to hide her insecurities, but still just wanted to be loved. The families of the protagonists gained a lot of space and although problematic, they were very kind.
I was extremely happy to have given the book a chance. From romance to fights and, of course, the typical character development, Holding up The Universe together is an exciting book and I believe it's perfect for giveaways, whether for teens or older people, and try to spread a little more kindness in the world.