Libby Strout needs to start over.
Being labelled "America's Fattest Teen" and having the world watch on television as a back-hoe rips a hole in the side of your house so you can simply leave the house would make anyone feel like a fresh beginning.
Thrown in the heart-crushing reality that her mum is dead and you've got an epic level potential for depression. Still, Libby feels she's ready to go back to high school, make new friends and try new things.
Jack Masselin appears to have it all, good looks, the most popular friends and a great girlfriend. All of that's just surface trash, though. Underneath, Jack's dealing with the fact that his dad is cheating on his mum while trying to survive cancer, his brother's being picked on at school and oh yeah, he has Prosopagnosia - the inabilty to read faces.
It's not like he looks at someone and it's just a blank face, it's that he can't remember facial details. He could turn his head for a second and forget who everyone is in the room if he doesn't have the right identifiers. Yes, this is a real thing and it sounds awful. Even worse, Jack hasn't told anyone about it, he's just tried to survive without telling anyone.
Both Jack and Libby feel really alone and out of place in the world, then they meet and realise that they don't have to be.
I enjoy Jennifer Niven's writing, it's fluid and pained but still makes you want to connect with the characters. I think part of this book is about figuring out that everyone is dealing with something, nobody's life is perfect and that to really get to know someone is something special to cherish. It's also about the dangers of fat-shaming and putting labels on people, bullying and all of the nasty stuff that comes with that.
If you enjoyed her pervious work, All the Bright Places, you'll certainly enjoy Holding Up the Universe!
I recommend this book to ages 15 +.