2 Sentence Summary
Jennifer Niven’s “Holding up the Universe” is a heartfelt young adult novel that delves into the lives of Jack and Libby, two teenagers navigating their own challenges. Their unexpected connection and growing relationship offer a touching exploration of acceptance, self-discovery, and overcoming insecurities.
Summary Read Time: Less than 4 minutes
Actual Book Length: 391
First Published in: 2016
Below is the detailed yet quick Holding Up The Universe summary:
Meanwhile, Jack and Libby have realized they are attracted to one another. Jack takes Libby on a date to Clara’s Pizza King, a unique restaurant in Richmond because he has happy memories of the restaurant. However, Libby suspects that he took her there to avoid being seen with her in their hometown. Jack must wonder to himself if that was his unintended intention. When his friends begin to criticize him for dating Libby, Jack tells Libby he is unable to maintain the relationship.
Since the beginning of the year, Libby had been finding letters stating “You aren’t wanted” in her locker. She tries out for the Damsels, the school’s dance team, but is not chosen. Shortly after the tryouts, Libby receives another letter that states: “You aren’t wanted. (I told you so.)”. Libby retaliates by standing in the middle of the school hallway wearing an electric purple bikini with the words “I am wanted” written on her stomach. She distributes copies of her treatise, in it, she criticizes the person telling her she’s unwanted, asserting that her friends and family do want her. Libby challenges others who have had those words said to them not to believe them.
Libby breaks up a fight between Jack and Moses Hunt at an after-school party. Jack, who was drunk, had accidentally kissed another boy’s girlfriend believing that it was a girl he once dated. Libby drives Jack home and learns that he lives in the house across the street from the house that had to be cut open for her to be rescued. Jack tells her that he watched when she was rescued, but did not think it was a joke. He told her that he had been rooting for her. Libby recognizes the words for a letter she received while she was in the hospital. Even though Jack had not known her then, he had written her a letter to encourage her. That night, Jack tells his family about his face-blindness.
Afterward, Jack thinks about Libby and how much he misses her company. He suddenly realizes that even though he cannot recall a mental image of the other important people in his life, he knows what Libby looks like. Jack tells her that she is the only person he can “see” in that way. He tells her that he believes he can see her in this way because he loves her. When he kisses Libby and then takes her hand, he feels as if he has come home.
As Libby Strout and Jack Masselin navigate the maelstrom of teenage life in Jennifer Niven’s “Holding up the Universe,” their bond takes an affectionate turn. On a nostalgic trip to Clara’s Pizza King, Jack takes Libby on a date, although she suspects it might be a hideout from their local friends. Their budding romance is short-lived, though, when Jack yields to his friends’ criticism and puts their relationship on hold.
Libby, a beacon of resilience, faces cruel notes left in her locker declaring, “You aren’t wanted.” Undeterred, she contests for a spot on the school’s dance team, the Damsels. In a show of defiance, Libby boldly counters her tormentors by publicly declaring her worth in a vibrant bikini and a powerful treatise. She challenges anyone who’s ever been belittled not to believe such harsh words.
As the tale reaches its climax, a brawl between Jack and Moses Hunt at an after-school party brings Libby to Jack’s rescue. An intoxicated Jack reveals his face-blindness to his family. With a twist of irony, Jack finds he can remember Libby’s face, even when other familiar faces elude him. Declaring his love for her, Jack tells Libby she is the only person he can truly “see.” Jack’s connection to Libby transcends his condition, and in a heartfelt moment, he expresses the feeling of coming home when he’s with her.