Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s/Knopf Books for Young Readers for giving me a free digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
The first thing that attracted me to this book was the cover. It’s gorgeous, and it features a PoC! Better than that, a character who’s deaf, which I don’t read or see much about in YA literature (unless I’ve been reading all the wrong books?). I’m glad there for the representation, and I hope if you pick this up, I’ll enjoy it as I did.
Title: You’re Welcome, Universe
Author: Whitney Gardener
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House Children’s)
Expected release date: March 7, 2017
Length: 304 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) “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.”
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this book. I really did, but I’m afraid something just didn’t click completely for me. I still feel as if it’s missing something, but I’m not sure what. I hate saying that, but it’s true. Maybe it was the narration or the writing style–it felt stilted.
First off, the cover of this book is gorgeous! I love how bright and vibrant it is! I love the representation in it as well: a brown deaf girl who started off attending a deaf school, raised by two moms who are also deaf. Then she transferred to a regular public school. I also liked how this book had illustrations, showing off some of Julia’s artwork. It’s beautiful, and I loved some of the sign language illustrations as well.
One of my main complaints are Julia’s outbursts. She’s only sixteen, sure, and teenagers can be irrational a lot of times (I mean, I was and sometime still am), and I’m allowing that to be an excuse as to why she gets angry quite easily. I understand that she feels betrayed by her best friend, who snitched on her, but she kept going back to it, and it turned into an even bigger deal when a certain boy came into the picture.
But the good thing is that this book isn’t about who gets the boy: it’s about a blossoming friendship between Julia and a girl she nicknamed YP, and I absolutely loved it! Though Julia focused a lot on her own problems and became somewhat selfish, she realized what YP has problems of her own (and quite a serious one at that. I wasn’t sure what the author intended, but I definitely felt she didn’t reflect too much on it). She sees the sacrifices YP made for her, and though it blows out of proportion, it was definitely a relief to see the two work together.
Besides the friendship, Julia was quite serious about her art, and I found myself appreciating her passion, and even her guilt at lying to her parents about certain things. Terms were used that people in the graffiti art world would most likely understand, but I certainly didn’t. 😛
If you didn’t know, I’m participating in Book Madness 2017! And… *drumroll* Kestrel (and I) made it to Round 2! You can vote here and also enter to win some cool bookish prizes! Help us get to Round 3! 🙂