Title: You’re Welcome, Universe
Author: Whitney Gardner
Hardback: 297 pages
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
I was sent this book from the publisher, Knopf in exchange for an honest review. This does not change my opinion of the book in any way.
Julia is a lover of art, street art to be specific. When she gets caught for the graffiti mural that she creates to hide a slur written about her bestfriend, Jordyn on the wall behind the school, she is expelled when Jordyn rats her out. Julia is panicked and upset because she has to change schools and her mother’s will not be happy. This changes Julia’s life for the best, and she learns a lot of lessons along the way.
I really admire the representation in this novel especially on deaf culture. This is a topic I have never read about in YA fiction, having not picked up any books with deaf main characters. I have only read about blind main characters (Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom). Julia teaches us what it’s like to be in her shoes by seeing her daily routine when moving from a deaf school to a hearie school. It is a drastic change for her, she has to get an interpreter, Casey. We see her frustration as she tries to keep up with lip reading and trying to get others to understand her. As the reader, you get frustrated along with Julia when students and teachers just do not know what she’s trying to tell them. This is not an own voices book, but it definitely reads like one.
Julia is a deaf teenager with two deaf mothers, Ma and Mee. Mee is Julia’s biological mother who is Indian leading to Julia being an Indian character. Like I mentioned, I really admire the representation in this story, there is so much of it and it is fantastic. However, I really do wish that we had more emphasis on Julia’s Indian culture because we see so much of her deaf culture, her Indian culture is overlooked.
“I don’t want Muslim hands touching my food. Or the children’s”. She turns and wraps he arms around the boy in the passenger seat, who looks as confused as I do. Some things I wish I didn’t lip-read. Just because I’m brown doesn’t mean I’m muslim” (59)
Whitney Gardner writes Julia as a normal teenager despite her disability. She works at McDonald’s as a fryer, we go with her to her shifts as she puts in the fries, takes them out, fries again, and puts them in their bags. I really loved this, I’m a sucker for characters that have jobs especially teenagers because it adds to the Realistic Fiction aspect.
Julia learns a lot of life lessons in this story, a main topic is friendship and finding out who your true friends really are. As well as keep doing what you love, no matter what gets in the way. Julia struggles with maintaining a friendship with her friend, Jordyn, who has a cochlear implant. Jordyn is busy chasing after a boy they work with, Donovan, who Julia also has a crush on. Jordyn could care less about Julia, at that given time and is just rude. Jordyn is really a fake friend to Julia.
If you were a fan of the book, Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom you will love You’re Welcome, Universe. Parker from NIISYF and Julia would be the best of friends, they have similar personalities and they do not want anyone’s pity because of their disability. I really loved that about NIISYF and I really enjoyed having another character like her in Julia. Another thing NIISYF does is put less emphasis on romance, which Gardner did with You’re Welcome, Universe. Julia develops a crush on Donovan but it doesn’t escalate to be the center of the story.
If you aren’t convinced to pick up this book already, here is another reason. The author, Whitney Gardner is also the illustrator and the illustrations are spectacular!! Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll see while reading You’re Welcome, Universe and the illustrations match up with the story! Gardner really captures Julia’s art to the fullest in this novel.
Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this book and I would like to thank Knopf again for sending me a copy of this to review! Go pick up your copy now, you won’t regret this read!
YOU’RE WELCOME, UNIVERSE is an American Booksellers Association Indies Introduce Pick for the Winter/Spring 2017 season.