Holding Up The Universe – book review

holding-up-the-universe

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone. 

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

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All the Bright Places – book review

All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places is a poignant and heart-wrenching book, written by Jennifer Niven.

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death and has always thought that one day he might end up killing himself. However every time he gets close, something, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future. She counts down the days until she graduates from high school, until she’s finally free to escape the town she’s always lived in and the grief of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet each other on the ledge of the bell tower at their school, it’s not really clear who saves who. And when the two of them pair up for a geography project on finding the wonders of their state, they both make some important discoveries. Finch discovers he can be himself with Violet – a weird, funny and spontaneous guy who’s not such a freak after all. Violet realises maybe she doesn’t have to count down the days, she has to live them. Together, they discover so many things about the place they’ve always lived but haven’t explored, about each other, and most importantly, about themselves. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

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I completely fell in love with All The Bright Places. I’d been wanting to read this book for ages but I couldn’t remember the release date, and so when I went onto an online book store, I saw that it had been released the day before. Hands almost shaking from excitement, I called my local bookshop and yes, they had it in. Before I had even left the shop, I was feeling all the feels. First, it was the excitement of getting this new book that I’d been absolutely dying for. Then it was the question of looking around the shop for any more books I could want, but not necessarily need. (I ended up buying three others, even though I’m drowning in unread books in my room, just so you know). And as soon as I started reading this book, the tears were flowing. This was definitely an emotional experience, and one that I couldn’t have enjoyed more.

This book is written so beautifully and every single word on every single page seemed to be so delicately and deliberately placed and it was just stunning to read. The writing was emotional, intelligent and energetic, which is what I always hope for in a book. This book quickly went from being a book I was excited to reading to taking its place in my heart. Not all the books I read have a special place in my heart like this one does.

Another aspect of the writing which was completely spot on was the voices of Violet and Finch. They were completely realistic and these two characters were unique and interesting and alive. These two characters had voices that matched their age and they weren’t the type of characters who sounded like they were trying too hard to be teenagers. I found myself falling in love with all of the characters in this book, especially those two. They were ingeniously woven together to create characters so real that they wouldn’t have any trouble finding their way out of the pages.

This book is told from two points of view – Violet’s and Finch’s. I never mixed up their voices because they were both different and I always knew whose head I was inside. It was interesting to be able to be inside both their heads and know what they were thinking. I loved getting to know they both so personally that way and I really felt as though I was connected to both of them.

Finch was an incredible character. He definitely wasn’t perfect, that’s not what I’m saying. But it was his imperfections and the fact that he was so flawed and yet so amazing made him a person I absolutely fell in love with. Finch was spontaneous and exciting and I loved it. We read from Finch’s POV first, and this is when he’s on the ledge of a bell tower at his school, preparing to jump. His head was filled with racing thoughts and weird behaviour and we were left trying to work out what exactly was going on. We don’t know why he was going to jump, at this point. However, the tears started flowing from this moment and hardly stopped for the entire book. Finch has a mental illness and he’s had some bad things happen in his life. This book felt really close to me because I know people who have been in the same situation as Finch and this book really affected me. It was fascinating in an awful and scary way to know what someone like Finch would be thinking as they looked down, ready to jump and end it all.

But Finch meets Violet on the ledge, who is also considering jumping. Her story is intriguing to hear and I really liked learning about her past, no matter how sad it was to hear about that. Violet also has problems, like Finch, and they both thought that death was the only way out. But they both manage to get down from that ledge alive. And that’s where the fun begins. I loved watching their friendship grow from that moment and getting to know both these characters so well was really enjoyable. I was also able to connect with Violet really well. Although I haven’t had the same thing happen to me, I know that feeling of complete despair and utter hopelessness and I know how all-consuming it can become. Getting to know her full story really helped me to understand why she acted the way she did.

I loved watching the interactions between Finch and Violet. It becomes clear that the message of this book is to enjoy life, even in the dark times when everything seems to hard to continue. I completely agree with that, and this book had made me want to go and see the world and live, not just exist. Some of the other themes in this book can be a little confrontational for some. This book deals with issues such as suicide and mental illnesses and it can be a very sad at times. I’m one of those people that cries in almost every book I read, and this was no exception. I think this is the type of book that everyone should read both for the general entertainment one gets from reading, but also to further understand the effects mental illnesses have on those people with them, but also on the people around them. This book was definitely worth my time, and I urge all of you to go and read it. I’d give All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven a score of 10 out of 10. Please please please go out and read this book and share your thoughts if you already have!

Side note: This book is becoming a move?! Has this been confirmed? When I read that on the Goodreads synopsis, I started shrieking with happiness and jumping up and down. I’m so excited for this movie! I don’t think we have any other details yet, or a release date, but that doesn’t matter. As long as they do this book-movie adaptation well, I’m more than happy. If anyone knows details, let me know!