Published by Random House Children's Books on March 7th 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Family, Alternative Family, Social Themes, General
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A vibrant, edgy, fresh new YA voice for fans of More Happy Than Not and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, packed with interior graffiti. When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural. Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a "mainstream" school in the suburbs, where she's treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up. Out in the 'burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off--and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war. Told with wit and grit by debut author Whitney Gardner, who also provides gorgeous interior illustrations of Julia's graffiti tags, You're Welcome, Universe introduces audiences to a one-of-a-kind protagonist who is unabashedly herself no matter what life throws in her way.
You’re Welcome, Universe was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017, it has a Deaf MC, who is also of Indian heritage and has two moms. It’s not #ownvoices, but it has incredibly strong representation, but not only that it was a genuinely incredible read, right from the start. There aren’t many books about graffiti, and I don’t know a lot about it because I am as artistic as a tea-spoon, but I was completely enraptured with what Julia was doing.
Julia is one of those MCs you’re rooting for from the very start. She’s very head-strong in her opinions – she doesn’t care that this girl, Yoga Pants, wants to be her friend, after she’s expelled from her old school, she isn’t interested in friends, she’s happy just to pootle along, all by herself, with the occasional assist from her interpreter Casey. I genuinely loved Julia. She was proud to be Deaf, couldn’t care less what anyone thought of her, and she’s the type of girl I wish I was. I wish I was more like Julia, because her absolute belief of right and wrong, and her sense of self was absolutely outstanding and I loved that she was never happier than when she had a spray can in her hand.
There’s a lot to love about You’re Welcome, Universe. The friendship between YP and Julia was incredible, because I loved that YP wasn’t going to just let Julia brush her off – she persisted again, and again, until Julia broke down and it was an incredible friendship. I appreciated how YP was willing to learn how to sign so they could converse without Casey, and it’s the kind of natural, easy-going friendship that makes you so, so happy you picked the book up. You genuinely cannot beat a good book about friendship. And the artwork was INCREDIBLE. Whitney Gardner is crazy talented, man, and even just seeing it in black and white on my Kindle blew me away. It properly brought the book to life, in my eyes, to see what Julia was doing and despite Julia’s insistence that the person tagging her tags was doing her a disservice, which I agree with, it was visually stunning.
You’re Welcome, Universe was incredible. From start to finish, I was as absorbed in Julia’s world – the art, the friendships, the way Julia was portrayed honestly blows my mind. I don’t know how I would cope if I were Deaf, although the ability to not hear storms would be pretty incredible as I have a pretty horrible fear of thunder, but other than that, I would struggle, and I liked how Whitney Gardner portrayed Julia’s hearing in that she could lip read, but she didn’t always catch all the words, and that seemed so true to how it actually is for someone who is Deaf. I was honestly so blown away with it all, it’s been a while since I’ve felt so passionate about a book and this is a very, very special debut by a very, very special storyteller.