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Description⎮Reviewed Dec. 2016
5★ Audiobook⎮ At two percent completion, I was ready to give Holding Up the Universe five stars. All throughout the remaining 98%, those stars were basically Jennifer Niven’s to lose. It seems that I am one of the few who has yet to pick up All the Bright Places, but after this phenomenal experience with Niven’s writing, it’s definitely on my to-do list.
Holding Up the Universe could have been a five star book with only one its unique elements, but Niven saw fit to include several diversifying elements and weaved them together with a beautiful, uplifting, and memorable story. There were two main characters: A female protagonist with a severe weight problem who suffers from panic attacks and male protagonist with a neurological disorder affecting his ability to recognize faces (Prosopagnosia). A book with either of those characters would cause me to instantly begin listening, but a book with both of those characters is unbelievable. And those were just the highlights.
Holding Up the Universe was filled with so much body positivity, love, support and utter authenticity that, even after having finished it, I’m still not sure it can exist. This is like the unicorn of books. I’m sure it wasn’t perfect, but it was perfect enough for me. It gave me the same feeling that Eleanor and Park did. A feeling of believing that love and acceptance can exist in a world with so much hate. A feeling of hope.
As 2016 comes to a close, I’m realizing how important of a factor memorability is when reflecting on the 100+ titles I’ve heard this year. Time will be the ultimate judge, but I imagine Holding Up the Universe will be extraordinarily difficult to forget.
Narration review: Holding Up the Universe was my second Robbie Daymond narrated audiobook this month. After enjoying his performance in Everything, Everything, I decided to browse his other work and that’s how I stumbled upon Holding Up the Universe. Audiobooks with multiple narrators are a turn off for some listeners, but dual narration is always a win in my book. The story line of Holding Up the Universe was excellently formatted for audio translation. It makes perfect sense that a book with two protagonists should have two separate performers.
I could be wrong, but Jennifer Niven seemed to have had audio recording in mind when writing Holding Up the Universe. If not, then this was one hell of a lucky shot. The alternating points-of-view were flawlessly executed, partially due to the incredible narration of Jorjeana Marie and Robbie Daymond and partially due to Niven’s ease of transition. I’m aware of that alternating POVs irritate some readers/listeners, but Niven accomplished it in a way that
complemented enhanced the story’s bigger picture and I believe she could not have done that as effectively without Marie and Daymond. ♣︎