Holding Up The Universe is an unforgettable novel about loving yourself and others for who they are. The protagonists Libby and Jack are different yet similar in many ways. As a misunderstanding forces them to spend more time together, they embark on a cathartic journey of self-discovery. They learn that love and self-understanding is found sometimes in the most unlikely places.
Niven’s young adult novel is wonderful on so many levels. Her writing style is poetic, lovely and fluid. Certain phrases and scenes were beautifully written,and fused with blossoming-seeds of liberation and healing. I reread some of these phrases because of the sheer impact. When a writer can do that with a few words; when a reader stops, absorbing every word, you know that the writer has created a special story.
As a fictional character, Libby was courageous, confident and admirable. She became overweight after the death of her mother. When a rescue team cut Libby out of her house, Libby returned to school years later. Did Libby ever feel afraid in this novel? Many times. I loved Libby’s tenacity and her fight-back attitude. She dared to be different in a society that wouldn’t accept her. She loved every single piece of herself with an unashamed confidence. She was the withered flower that blossomed and left a trail of sunshine. Then there’s Jack. He came to terms with certain issues, and he was one of the bravest characters. Jack was a good guy deep-down despite making terrible decisions. I think he needed someone to really see his heart and not just a cool guy with an afro. Circumstances of the past affected both characters ;but they proved that you don’t have to be a product of your past. The split narrative was great, too. I felt like I connected with the characters.
Overall, HUTU is an inspiring novel filled with treasure and endearing moments. This novel touched me with its sheer honesty, gutsiness and belief that everyone, no matter the circumstance, is special and unique.