Holding Up the Universe
Jennifer Niven's deeply compelling and highly successful first teen novel All The Bright Places was very much for an older audience with its themes of depression and suicide. Her new book Holding Up the Universe is suitable for younger teens as well - and just as powerfully written.
The book is narrated in turns by Libby, famous for once being 'America's Fattest Teen' and starting high school after years of being home schooled, and Jack, who seems to be one of the popular kids but secretly suffers from Prospagnosia - the inability to recognise the faces of familiar people even those in this own family which is often called 'face blindness'. Their worlds collide in a horribly cruel high school game and an unlikely friendship is formed that leads to something even deeper.
Jennifer Niven is a gorgeous writer. Her characters Libby and Jack feel so real that it's almost impossible to believe they don't live and breathe. The author herself struggled with weight issues and anxiety over the years, particularly as a teenager, so this writing comes from the heart. The spotlight on prosopagnosia sheds an interesting light on a little known but not so uncommon condition. The ultimate message is uplifting and positive and one that teenagers everywhere need to hear: be yourself and you deserve to be wanted and loved for who you are.