Book Review: “You’re Welcome, Universe”



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. (x)

This was a fun, quick read with a good intro into Deaf culture and street artist culture. The illustrations were beautiful added so much to the book.

My favorite thing about this book was that the main cause of heartache for Julia is her friendships with Jordyn and YP. Usually, heartache surrounds love interests and friendship is treated like it can’t hurt you like a romantic relationship can. This book shows you that friendships can hurt you and sometimes you can reconcile and sometimes it’s better to move on.

Favorite passage: “Listen, English is second language. I speak American Sign Language. It’s not English. It’s not charades, not miming. It’s a language.” – pg. 247

I love this because a lot of people really don’t understand that ASL is its own language. Like Julia says, it’s not charades or miming. It’s not based on English. (In fact, ASL has more in common with French Sign Language. British Sign Language – from another native English speaking country – is really different from ASL.) Gardner also makes sure to treat ASL like a language by not always saying “signed” after dialogue. She writes signing like it’s natural.

I would love to see more books like this one with Deaf main characters and strong friendships.


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