Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

2019 has been a great year for reading so far! I discovered the world of YA literature last year and fell in love! I read All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven earlier this year and was it really impacted me (seriously, go read it if you haven’t already). Jennifer’s writing style is powerful and I knew I had to read more. I already have a third book lined up by her to read in the near future.

Summary:

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.

Review:

I needed to read this book. For the past year I have been beating myself up about gaining weight and Libby made me want to love myself again. Libby is the definition of a strong female lead who picks herself up off the ground and makes big things happen. She is brave, resilient, and unstoppable. I also love how she is so supportive of other girls in her class. I love when girls support girls instead of ripping each other apart.

And then we have sweet Jack Masselin who so badly wants to be a good guy but his undiagnosed neurological condition makes it hard for him. The common theme with Jack is peer pressure to do things he wouldn’t otherwise think to do. The “shitty” thing he does actually brings him closer to Libby which in the long run may save him from himself.

This was another quick read for me. I just couldn’t put it down! If I was reading it on a weekend I probably would have read it in under 24 hours. The characters, the plot, and the message were so good and made me want to keep reading. The ending was perfect too.

Favorite Quotes:

“I want you to know I’m rooting for you.’ Sometimes we need to hear that, even from a stranger.”

“We never know how long we have. We’re never guaranteed tomorrow. I could die right now, right here.”

“One of the worst things a pretty girl can say to a fat girl is You look really pretty.”

“Life is too short to judge others. It is not our job to tell someone what they feel or who they are. Why not spend some time on yourself instead? I don’t know you, but I can guarantee you have some issues you can work on. And maybe you’ve got a fit body and a perfect face, but I’ll wager you’ve got insecurities too, ones that would keep you from stripping down to a purple bikini and modeling it in front of everyone.

As for the rest of you, remember this. YOU ARE WANTED. Big, small, tall, short, pretty, plain, friendly, shy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise not even yourself.

Especially not yourself.”

“Everyone in my life is a stranger, and that includes me.”

“It’s my experience that the people who are most afraid are the ones who hide behind mean and threatening words.”

“Dear friend, You are not a freak. You are wanted. You are necessary. You are the only you there is. Don’t be afraid to leave the castle. It’s a great big world out there. Love, a fellow reader”

“We’re all weird and damaged in our own way. You’re not the only one.”

“People are shitty for a lot of reasons. Sometimes they’re just shitty people. Sometimes people have been shitty to them and, even though they don’t realize it, they take that shitty upbringing and go out into the world and treat others the same way. Sometimes they’re shitty because they’re afraid. Sometimes they choose to be shitty to others before others can be shitty to them. So it’s like self-defensive shittiness.”

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Libby and Jack may not be real but they can teach you a thing or two about life. I am giving Holding up the Universe 5 stars because it made me think, feel, and opened my eyes to other’s thoughts and feelings.

I love reading books that make me want to take action when I’m done. This one motivated me to put myself out there again and try to be the healthiest version of myself. It motivated me lose weight because I love myself and not because I hate my body.

Once again, Jennifer Niven is a brilliant writer. I’m pretty positive I will love anything Jennifer writes and am already looking forward to reading the next one.

What’s your favorite book at the moment?

Lifestyle Blog, Life of Hayley

 

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2019: First Quarter Goals Recap

setting goals for 2019

In January I posted about my goals for the first quarter of 2019. The first three months have flown by and I am about to post my second quarter goals next week. Today I thought I would share how I did with my goals for the first quarter.

  1. Get a professional haircut. Guys! I hate getting my haircut so this still hasn’t happened. I still have this weekend though so I’ll try to force myself to get it cut. Do it for the blog!! I know I’ll feel better after I do.
  2. Travel at least twice. This was an easy one! We took a quick trip to visit Brett’s grandpa in Florida in January and then took a few days in February to visit my grandparent’s in Arizona.
  3. Commit to the blog. I give myself a 70% with this goal. I was pretty consistent with posting but never was able to reach my view goal that I always have in my head. If you read my blogging tips post you would know that I try not to take blogging too seriously so I won’t be hard myself and will consider this goal accomplished.
  4. Read three books and write reviews. YES! I read Meet Cute, All The Bright Places, and Top Ten and was able to write reviews for all three. I also read Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven but haven’t posted the review for it yet. Stay tuned!
  5. Meal plan and prep for the week ahead. I did okay with meal planning and prep. I went to the grocery store and made sure I had work lunches packed 90% of the time. I learned a couple of new recipes that I am loving and stopped relying on my crock pot so much. I still have some work to do with this but I plan on continuing what I have been doing in Q2.
  6. Make healthy living a top priority. Why is this so hard? UGH. I am getting better though. I’ve been losing a couple of pounds a week and have stopped snacking so much in between meals. I think about my goals often and try to be gentle with myself. Healthy living has been my priority and will continue to be throughout the rest of the year.

Stay tuned for my second quarter goals next week! Do you have any goals for the next few months?

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Photo by Hey Beauti Magazine on Unsplash

 

 

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

This book was not on my 2019 reading list but I read a review and knew that I needed to read it ASAP. All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is one of those books that makes you believe in love and happiness but also allows you to experience heartbreak that feels so real and raw. By the end of the book I was crying and felt like my heart was in one thousand little pieces but in a good way. Sometimes we need to be reminded that it’s okay to feel all of the emotions at once.

But the main reason why I loved this book was because of the message. Reading through Finch and Violet’s day-to-day struggles with mental illness is SO important. Understanding is important. In the book they talk about how no one brings flowers to funerals and no one bakes casseroles for the family of suicide victims. That suicide is selfish. But it’s not and this book will explain why.

Summary

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death. Every day he thinks of ways he might kill himself, but every day he also searches for—and manages to find—something to keep him here, and alive, and awake.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her small Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—six stories above the ground— it’s unclear who saves whom. Soon it’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. . . .

Review

This may actually be the best written book that I have ever read. I finished it about two weeks ago and still think about Finch and Violet daily.

I felt everything as it was happening and it took me back to moments in my life and made me realize that maybe I didn’t grieve as thoroughly as I thought I did. A couple of years ago I lost someone close to me who died in a “selfish” way. People tried to understand but they really couldn’t and it was devastating. I don’t think there will ever be a point in time where a book about mental illness and suicide is no longer relevant and important. It’s a hard read but incredibly important.

When we first meet Violet she is struggling to grieve for her sister who died in a car accident. Finch is all over the place with his mood when he sees Violet on the bell tower. They are both thinking about jumping and that day Finch saves Violet’s life and she gives him something to live for.

This book follows their friendship and eventual romance. It’s cute and fluffy with a side of seriousness. I love that the chapters switch back and forth between Finch and Violet’s point of view and I enjoyed being able to read both sides of the story. Finch’s chapters were really informative especially when you later hear the probable diagnosis from his school counselor.

The ending of the book is bittersweet and I actually did not see it coming. I really don’t want to give anything away so I won’t say much about it but these things happen in real life. It’s scary and crazy and it feels like there isn’t anything we can do about it. What I love most about this book is that Jennifer Niven brings to light all of the things we feel we can’t talk about when it comes to suicide and mental illness. Not only does she talk about it, she also gives resources for readers who feel similar to Finch and Violet.

Favorite Quotes

“You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.”

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”

“You make me lovely, and it’s so lovely to be lovely to the one I love.…”

“You have been in every way all that anyone could be.… If anybody could have saved me it would have been you.”

“No more winter at all. Finch, you brought me spring.”

“What if life could be this way? Only the happy parts, none of the terrible, not even the mildly unpleasant. What if we could just cut out the bad and keep the good? This is what I want to do with Violet – give her only the good, keep away the bad, so that good is all we ever have around us.”

“Listen, I’m the freak. I’m the weirdo. I’m the troublemaker. I start fights. I let people down. Don’t make Finch mad, whatever you do. Oh, there he goes again, in one of his moods. Moody Finch. Angry Finch. Unpredictable Finch. Crazy Finch. But I’m not a compilation of symptoms. Not a casualty of shitty parents and an even shittier chemical makeup. Not a problem. Not a diagnosis. Not an illness. Not something to be rescued. I’m a person.”

“You saved my life. Why couldn’t I save yours?”

“I was here. TF.”

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Once again, this book is incredible. It’s raw, powerful, and extremely informative. I pride myself in being empathetic to others in situations very different from my own. Gaining perspective from All The Bright Places has helped me become more understanding, especially towards survivors of suicide. I would 150% recommend adding this to your reading list.

Apparently All The Bright Places is being turned into a movie in 2019! I’m looking forward to the day that I can watch Violet and Finch’s stories come to life. Also, it’s being directed by Brett Haley which is pretty much the most perfect name.

Have you read a book lately this you just can’t stop thinking about?

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