Title: You’re Welcome, Universe
Author: Whitney Gardner
Genre & Age Group: Contemporary, young adult
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.
Source: Thanks so much to Indigo Books & Music Inc. for providing me a physical ARC of this book!
How I Found Out About It: Netgalley
I first came across You’re Welcome, Universe on Netgalley. As much as I wanted to request it, it was only for American readers, so I didn’t want to risk being declined. Luckily, when the ARC newsletter from Indigo came in featuring this book, I couldn’t help but request it, expecting an artsy, fun, diverse read. And for the most part, that’s what I got!
This book revolves around a girl named Julia, who is an avid graffiti artist. Someone had painted an offensive piece of graffiti about her best friend on the walls of her school, so she decides to fix it with her own graffiti mural. And, of course, she is caught and expelled from her school and forced to go mainstream. There, she is the only deaf student, and thus doesn’t fit in too well. She uses art as an escapism to all her troubles, and paints graffiti murals all around town. But it turns out that Julia isn’t the only graffiti artist- there’s another, and they want to compete.
I found Julia to be a very strong character who was never afraid to stand up for what she believed in. She knew that there were risks involved in painting over the slurs, but she didn’t expect to be expelled, but I still believe that despite what happened, she stayed strong with no regrets of the decision she made. Sure, getting expelled is never good, but doing the right thing absolutely is-punishment or no punishment.
To me, this book was quite unique, so I want to point out a few things that made it this way. First, the fact that there was little romance. There was a tiny bit between Julia’s best friend Jordyn and another minor character, but it makes almost no impact on the plot. It was refreshing to read a contemporary book without a major romantic relationship for a change– there really don’t seem to be too many of those!
I also loved the fact that art was covered. Again, not too many YA books centre around art, or any hobby in general! I myself am not the biggest artist, but knowing that there are more books about specific hobbies opens up the world of books to many new potential readers!
Lastly, the diversity. As I said before, Julia was hard of hearing and thus had a lot of trouble navigating around her new school, and she also had two moms. These were absolutely great to see, and I’m so glad that more and more books are becoming diverse!
Overall, this book was excellent, but the one thing that irked me was that there was a mystery mentioned in the synopsis which wasn’t too clear in the book- am I missing something? Anyway, anyone who is on the lookout for a sweet read with little romance, great morals and characters, DIVERSITY, and a big splatter of graffiti should definitely read this one when it comes out on March 7th! Don’t thank me- thank the universe for letting this book be published.😉
*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review.*