Holding Up the Universe (Part 2)

28671039 Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

**My opinions are based on an ARC of this book received from the publisher/author. It releases tomorrow, 10/4/16!

Read my initial thoughts about the book here.

Summary from Goodreads:

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.

My thoughts:

Well, if you don’t know by now that I’m a huge fan of this author, Jennifer Niven, where have you been?! Here’s a reminder of the excitement on my face when meeting her:

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So, the new book is FINALLY coming out…yay! I can’t wait for lots and lots of people to get to read it. I still feel strongly like I did when I originally posted that this book is not offensive to fat people and I don’t know why some would think it is, unless they are just extremely unhappy with themselves and look for any way to be negative. I accept who I am, so why would reading about someone with some of the same struggles make me angry? If anything, it makes it more enjoyable to read. I have been talking this book up to my students, especially those that I know enjoyed All the Bright Places and I have let a few read the ARC. They have enjoyed this one as well and it made them feel really special to get to read a book that wasn’t out yet. 🙂 I feel like this will be another important book that everyone should read because I think we should all read books about people that are similar, as well as very different, from us. How else do we develop compassion and empathy?

Just a side note, I have recently been diagnosed with Raynaud’s Syndrome and my fingers hurt so bad, but I am fighting through that pain to type this because I wanted it out there. I feel like Jennifer Niven deserves recognition for her writing and for being such a kind, awesome person! Thank you for another great read, Jennifer. I can’t wait to get it in my library and into the hands of many readers.

My rating: 5/5

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BookCon in Chicago

Hey again! This will (probably) be my last post for now about BEA/BookCon and this was my final day spent in Chicago. BookCon is kind of attached to BEA, but open to the public and run by a different company (I think). My coworkers/friends drove up Friday night after school and joined me for BookCon on Saturday. They were super excited and I was super exhausted, but happy to have friends to hang with for at least one of the days.

We had done our research about BookCon and knew we needed to get up early the next morning to get in line, but we grossly misjudged how early apparently. We got there a little over an hour before the autograph/wristband area opened, which was still 3 hours before BookCon actually started and we were overwhelmed by the massive line stretching to what seemed like an infinite point. We walked over from the hotel into the convention center, found the line, and had to follow it over a skywalk, down some escalators, and to a whole other building essentially…and there ended up being a LOT of people behind up before it was all said and done. Luckily, the wristband area was fairly well-organized and things moved quickly. We were actually able to get pretty much all of the wristbands we wanted, even though we were so far back in the line (or so it seemed). I was actually pretty impressed with the organization and manners of people, after some things I had read about past BookCons.

After getting our wristbands, we had to go wait in another line for the show floor to actually open and we had some fun there playing with Snapchat and maybe making fun of people around us (I would never!). Okay, really, I have to say it, there was just someone around us who smelled really bad and we had to laugh to make it through. Here we are in one of the lines and me with a sign at some point in the day:

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I had seen that there was going to be a Harry Potter wall in the Scholastic booth so that was one of my stops (since I couldn’t get into the Penguin breakfast, I was so close!) while they waited for the Sylvia Day signing—so not my cup of tea. The wall asked for you to tell why you loved Harry Potter or why it had impacted you. I was trying to show off my HP tattoo in the second photo, but obviously that didn’t work, so I will add a pic of it as well. Obviously, I’m a bit obsessed!

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We were walking around the floor picking up giveaways and ARCs before some of the signings and we ran into Richelle Mead. I have to admit that I was only just reading one of her books for the first time (while I was at BEA actually), but my friend Candice about lost her mind. She was like I was when I met Jennifer Niven. 🙂  Richelle was kind enough to take some pictures with us and chat a little bit. She even signed the copy of The Glittering Court that I had with me for our school library when Candice saw her again later. IMG_3019

I missed the James Dashner signing while waiting in line for the Property Brothers (I got caught up in hype and excitement!), so that was a little disappointing, but I met Drew and Jonathan! Drew is super cute by the way…okay, Jonathan is too, but I’m a Drew fan. Their line moved pretty slowly due to a holdup with the money table, so it took quite a while to make it through there, I want to say close to 2 1/2 hours in one line. But, at one point, they came out into the crowd because they knew we had been waiting so long, which I thought was super cool of them.

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My last signing of the day was Jennifer Niven (yes, again!). Is it getting creepy at this point? I just wanted to talk to her again and get a copy of All the Bright Places signed, since it is my absolute favorite. It was a pretty slow-moving line, but she was kind enough to chat with everyone, so I can’t fault her for that. I talked to her again and my friend Julie hyped me up, telling her how much I talked about her book. 🙂 Thanks, Julie! We have already put it into the hands of a student since we got back to read over the summer. I didn’t get a picture with her again, but I got a picture of her. Also, it was her birthday! I’m hoping that meeting fans and signing books is her idea of a fun birthday celebration.

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People were packing up booths and we were wandering out, when we came upon the massage both.  They were still working hard, so Julie decided to take advantage. I had never had a massage before and had a weird fear of it, but they talked me out of it and I got a back massage before we left the convention center. It was pretty nice, I’ll admit…but what I would’ve given for a foot massage (I was ready to cut them off and be done with it by that point!). They were offering one, but I was not about to subject anyone to my sweaty feet that had been in my stinky tennis shoes all day! I’m more considerate than that. 🙂

Would I do BookCon again? Probably not if I did BEA the days before, but I would if I had friends that really wanted to go again. It was fun nerding out with others who get it! I did get this awesome t-shirt out of the day:

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Here is my final stash from BEA and BookCon, stacked by month they come out—a little overwhelming and awesome!

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Check out the rest of my blog to read about my days at BEA.

Holding Up the Universe

 

Holding Up the Universe Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

**This review is based on an early bound manuscript received from the publisher/author and an ARC received at BEA.

This is an initial review, please know that there will be much more to come as the release date gets closer. That being said, this is a review from someone who has actually read the book (not just someone reviewing it based on a synopsis I read on Goodreads).

I hadn’t even bothered to read about all the negativity surrounding the initial synopsis of this book before today. Yes, I am a Jennifer Niven fan (as you would know if you have read my blog); this means I was highly anticipating this book and let me say that I was NOT disappointed. I feel that even though I am a fan, I can be fair and (almost) unbiased in my review, but I am someone who can relate to at least one of the characters as well. I am not a small girl, I have always struggled with being overweight and have had to hear rude comments coming from those who feel bad about themselves in some way. Why would you feel the need to comment on someone else’s weight unless you are insecure? I was in no way offended by Libby’s story or by the part in the original synopsis stating that she was going to “rejoin the human race”…in her mind, that’s exactly what she was doing after being confined to her home and home-schooled for several years. She was finally ready to overcome her challenges and get back to her life! I have never felt less than human for being overweight and I don’t think Jennifer (if she even had any part in that synopsis) would ever mean for it to seem that way for anyone.

Also, there are others commenting on the fact that the only way Jack could fall in love with Libby is because he couldn’t see her face…if you actually READ the book, you will understand why that is a ridiculous statement. I fell in love with these two as individual characters, as well as their love story.

All the Bright Places had a huge impact on me and has been one of my favorite books EVER written. This is a less devastating story (thank goodness for no tears), but still just as important and thought-provoking. Jennifer Niven is wonderful at showing unique perspectives and writing about diverse characters. Listening to her passion while speaking about the book at a BEA panel only made me realize that more. She is not telling this story to “make fun” of anyone, but to bring awareness to peoples’ differences and make us all a little more sensitive to those around us. Her books are great for discussions as well.

So, I’m done with my rant/rave here, but I will be posting more closer to the release date in October about my actual thoughts about the book (after a re-read I’m sure). If you picked up a copy of this at BEA or BookCon, READ it and SHARE it with someone who will love it!

Here is a photo of the manuscript I received….it is the first one I’ve ever been sent and I adore it!

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