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.

Quick Thoughts and Rating: Actual rating of 3.5 stars! With a heavy focus on friendship, diversity, and graffiti art, this novel was a feast for the eyes. The pacing felt wonky in places, but I still managed to make quick work of this book.

♥ Review: I thought for the most part that You’re Welcome, Universe was a solid read. I believe it did a good job of depicting diversity in race, sexual orientation, and deaf, hearing, and those that were somewhere in-between thanks to technology and cochlear implants and such. For me, the best part of this book was its focus on building strong friendships, even when Julia’s first BFF relationship was falling through and she had sworn off others. YWU was about supporting friends and learning to forgive and even about learning when to walk away. This book was about digging deeper and connecting with people, and even connecting with art and how it makes us feel, and what is even considered art. Speaking of art, I really dug the artwork throughout the book and getting to see firsthand what Julia and her rival were throwing up on the streets. I can only guess that it’ll be beautifully done with splashes of vibrant color in the published edition, so likely even better than the already really well done black and white images that I saw on my kindle.

As much as I really enjoyed the characters and the storyline, I did have a few issues with it. I will say that I struggled a little bit with the formatting in regards to when Julia was trying to read people’s lips. I get that it helps us better understand the challenges Deaf individuals face in the real world everyday and that we were probably supposed to read it as the broken bits and pieces that Julia gets, but I’m weird and a little nosy, so that’s not at all how it went down with me. I’ll admit that I spent an irrational amount of time trying to figure out what all the gaps and missing words were, which totally threw off my connection to the book and messed the pacing up too. My second major complaint is that we never really got what was going on with YP. From my subpar deductive reasoning skills, I think she was struggling with currently or had previously been struggling with an eating disorder. I think I liked that it didn’t take over the whole entire plot of the story or even become a major secondary storyline, but if it was supposed to be that, then I really wish it would have been given just a little more attention that what it had been given.

All in all, I really loved Julia’s moms, her art teacher, and her TERP. I loved the inclusion of the art and the way Julia’s brain processed stuff when she was in that zone. I thought YP was a great friend. For the most part, I even loved Julia despite her brief lapse of acting like the usual teenage brat, so I’ll forgive her the slip-up and how crappy she started treating people.

♥ Teaser Quote: 

    “I’m not better than friends, I want better friends. I want friends who are all in, all the time. It can’t just be all on your terms. You have to care, care about more than just yourself.”

– quote taken from an eARC of You’re Welcome, Universe at 98%

Book Rating Breakdown
Cover
Writing
Characters
Plot
Pacing
General Book Feels
Angst Me So Good
Overall:

♥ Rec It? Yes. If you’re in the mood for something quick, equal parts light-hearted and angsty, and focused more on friendship than romance, I’d certainly say this is the book for you. It doesn’t hurt that there’s some pretty stellar artwork included either!

♥ A very special thanks to Knopf Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this title.

*Disclaimer: An e-copy of this title was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.

Full of giggles, flails, snark and Southern endearments. Avid Reader. Lover of swoony boys, kickass heroines, yummy kissing scenes, and pretty prose.

I like to draw hearts in the sky (eternal optimist) and wish on stars (forever dreamer). Documentaries, sweet tea, sleep, and brightly colored knee-socks are a few of my favorite things. ♥

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