The Broken Plate Recommends

Holding Up the Universe by Brooke Bertram

I remember the first time I ever read Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven. I had grown to admire Niven after she released All the Bright Places, and so when I found out that she was releasing a new novel, I was ecstatic. I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting at the time, but I knew that whatever she wrote I would love – and I did.

Holding Up the Universe is about a girl named Libby and a boy named Jack. Libby, at just the age of ten years old, loses her mother unexpectedly. Because of this, she becomes depressed and ends up using food as a way to cope with her loss. After a while of this coping mechanism, Libby becomes home-bound and ends up having to be home-schooled. This then turns into Libby having to be cut out of her home. This moment is videotaped and posted to the internet where she earns the title, “America’s Fattest Teen.” Jack Masselin has something different going on. In the novel, we find out that he has prosopagnosia – the inability to recognize people’s faces. We find out that he has never actually been diagnosed so no one actually knows that he has it.

I don’t want to spoil the story, but Jack and Libby do end up crossing paths, and the both of them see each other for who they really are. I think this novel can really fit into the mission of The Broken Plate. This book focuses on two characters who feel as though there is no one that will ever understand them because of these things they are dealing with. They at times can feel unwanted or unheard. What Holding Up the Universe and The Broken Plate have in common is this – they both strive to realize how important it is to hear these voices and to let them know that we want them to be heard.