Monday, November 13, 2017

Audiobook Review: Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven

Rating: ★★★ +.5  | Release Date: 04/04/16 | Contemporary | 9 hours 3 minutes

In the romance genre there is always talk about the grovel--the moment when the hero has to fully take responsibility and beg forgiveness from the heroine for whatever stupid thing he did and prove he is deserving of his happily ever after.

So, when our male protagonist Jack Masselin decides to hold on to Libby Strout ,our 350 lb female protagonist, for a cruel game his friends invented call Fat Girl Rodeo, he basically has the entire book to earn his redemption

And you know what ? He does it. It's a journey though and I almost turned this book off because I just couldn't with Jack being the Billy Bush to his two idiot friend's Trump, but in the end Niven made it work.

Holding Up The Universe gently weaves a friendship between Libby and Jack after they both end up in an afterschool group counseling / community service / detention thing ? It's actually not super clear to me why all these kids were given this super special Breakfast-Club-y-Dead-Poets-Society-ish version of detention. Anyway, they learn to love each other and themselves while discovering their lives may have intersected before...

I know there was a lot of concern about Niven portraying  Libbie as a fat girl and about Jack as having severe prosopagnosia--face blindness. I can't speak to the authenticity if either of these portrayals but I think the characters themselves are done respectfully even though the people around them can be cruel.  Libbie knows she's not the perfect weight she likes herself and does not lose weight as part of her story arc. Jack's prosopagnosia was interesting to read about--but I did feel like Niven shoehorned in conflict to make us feel bad for Jack.

Audiobook narrators Jorjena Marie and Robbie Daymond were both new to me and they did a stellar job.  Jorjena does this great, wistful youthful voice with all the inflection and pop for Libbie and  Robbie Daymond has this amazing  gravely, expressive voice.They both sounded like they were having a good time, worked well off each other and could easily mimic each other's voice.

While I haven't read All The Bright Places, I know how it ends and I was afraid this book was going to go  to a dark place but it doesn't. If you're looking for a hopeful teen romance with a sprinkle of angst you'll like what Niven is serving up.

So, I know Niven is a big Supernatural fan and there are a lot of references to Supernatural in here. Like a lot.

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