Monday, March 6, 2017

Review: You're Welcome, Universe - Whitney Gardner

You're Welcome, Universe
Whitney Gardner
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Knopf
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenges: #DebutAuthorChallenge, #NGEW2017, Alphabet Soup Challenge
I know I shouldn't be tagging the school. I know that. But I wasn't the first, and that mess had to go. 
When the administration takes their own sweet time cleaning up a slur about her "best friend", Julia springs into action and uses her own graffiti to cover it up. Little did she know, her "best friend" would betray her, turning her into the principal and resulting in her expulsion from Kingston School for the Deaf. Now Julia must start over in a mainstream school.

This book was different, and I mean different in a good way. The protagonist was not one I have seen before, and the world she inhabited was new to me too. Furthermore, this was not a romance. There was romance, but that was not really central to the story. Rather, it was the friendships that took center stage.

Julia was an interesting heroine.
Indian, Deaf, girl, two moms.
Yes, Julia was all these things, and this idea that she didn't fit into a "box" was addressed directly, but she was also much more than that description. She knew herself, and was unapologetic about it.  She had passion, loved fiercely, and took chances. She also made mistakes and judged some people too quickly and too harshly. But she learned a lot through her experiences, growing and changing for the better.
I am on fire, I am HERE. Don't pity me.
Julia had decided to be a loner after her expulsion, but she could not resist the charm of Yoga Pants aka YP. I loved how YP was so different from Julia, but then ended up having so much in common. YP was in a healing phase herself, but she didn't let that stop her from reaching out to Julia, and she really made a gold-star effort. I loved that YP made Julia realize that she deserved better friends and she didn't have to settle for a friend of convenience.

At its core, this is a story of friendships - good and bad. Gardner illustrated friendships that were just bad, just good, and some that were complicated. I liked how she put these different relationships side by side, so the reader could compare and contrast them.
I'm not better than friends, I want better friends who are all in
I love, love, LOVE books that teach, but don't preach, and Gardner gave me an little education in this book. Julia was deaf, therefore, it needed to be addressed, but Gardner did it in such an organic way. She didn't make Deaf-culture the focus of the story, but made it a part of the story.
It's not hearing-loss, it's Deaf-gain.
Although one of my childhood friend's parents were both deaf, I was too young to really learn about Deaf-culture. I appreciated a lot of the things Gardner wove into her story with respect to this community, as well as the peek she gave us into the street art movement.

Finally, I have to comment on the artwork. This addition added an extra layer of awesome to an already great story. I found myself looking forward to the next illustration, and I was never disappointed.

Overall: A great story of friendship filled with interesting characters, street art, and Deaf-culture.

**I would like to thank NetGalley and Knopf for the advanced copy of this book

Do you like street art?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. I LOVE STREET ART! It adds so much character and is truly beautiful! And I am so glad to hear you enjoyed this book! I am going to be hopefully picking it up soon and fingers crossed I enjoy it

    xx Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages

    1. The street art stuff was really cool, and I loved the artwork that was incorporated into the book. I hope you like it too!