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You're Welcome, Universe

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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.

297 pages, Hardcover

First published March 7, 2017

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About the author

Whitney Gardner

5 books264 followers
Whitney Gardner is an author, illustrator, and coffee addict. Originally from New York, she studied design and worked as an art teacher and school librarian before moving to Victoria, BC, where she lives by the Salish Sea with her husband and two pugs. In the rare moment Whitney isn’t writing or drawing, she’s likely to be reading comics, knitting, or roasting her own coffee beans.

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5 stars
1,507 (25%)
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3 stars
1,597 (27%)
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140 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,037 reviews
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
611 reviews87.5k followers
February 11, 2017

*I received an ARC for review from Chapters Indigo as I am an Indigo employee but this in no way affects or influences my opinion*

This was such a beautiful story. I loved how thoughtfully it portrayed Deaf culture and really how overall diverse it was. A Deaf Indian MC with lesbian parents, like come on! And the two moms thing wasn't even a plot point, in fact it was hardly brought up it sort of just was which was even better! Also there was no romance, it was all about friendship. YAY! I will be doing a full review for this closer to the release date!
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
April 11, 2017
I really struggled to finish this book. At less than 300-pages it should have been a breeze, but it took me so long to push through.

One problem, perhaps, is that I chose the wrong kind of story for me. I like it when art is a subplot in a book - used for expressing oneself or for escapism - but I am often bored by books that focus almost entirely on art. I have no personal interest in different types of paint and the techniques required to turn them into something beautiful. I don't get anything out of art lessons about still life, or wheatpaste. I need something more.

And there isn't really anything. More, that is. You're Welcome, Universe's plot is about a graffiti war between the Deaf protagonist, Julia, and some mystery artist who keeps painting over her work. I guess it all depends on how interesting a graffiti war sounds to you as a reader.

As far as I can tell as an able-bodied individual, the author has done a lot of research on d/Deaf culture and spent time with a number of Deaf beta readers. Also consider checking out this review by a Deaf reader. What Julia is unable to realistically lip-read is shown by blanks in the dialogue, and Gardner gives consideration to details, such as when Julia tries to determine what kind of music Beatles songs are by the lyrics, and everyday microaggressions.

But I think my problem with this book was how bratty, petty, and selfish Julia was. I couldn't stand her. And not only that, but the way her actions are so easily swept under the rug without consideration. She goes around vandalizing other people's property, slut-shaming a girl for being "easier" after she apparently "stole Donovan", lying to everyone, and stomping around when she doesn't get her own way.

Julia is horrible to everyone in the book. I couldn't understand why so many people continued trying to befriend her. Sometimes people are moody and they screw up, but it was never treated like Julia did actually screw-up. And I was horrified by that scene where

A hard to like protagonist and hard to enjoy plot. Not for me.

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Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.2k followers
March 6, 2017
"Silence is the loudest sound."

It's been a really long time since I've read a book that has, chapter after chapter, taught me so much about a world I knew so little about. Actually, make that two worlds.

Julia is Deaf, and when her best friend rats her out for spraying graffiti in the school gym, she has to leave the Deaf school that she goes to and attend a Public school where no one knows how to communicate with her. What follows is a frustrating and eye-opening experience for Julia and me. I learned so much about being Deaf - things I never could have even guessed. The fact that Julia can't speak perfect English because ASL is a language, not a translation of English. How she has to find visual cues for things like the school bell ringing, how important cellphones have become for communication in all sorts of settings, and how terrifying it can be to try and communicate with cops if they can't communicate with you. There were big themes and little intricacies that this book opened me up to. But like I mentioned, I learned about two worlds. This book is also massively about graffiti. About how territorial it is and about what it means to the people that do it. I was so into the awesome illustrations that are sprinkled throughout.

You might be wondering, then... why only 3 stars? Well, I just couldn't connect with the writing. It felt like a classic example of telling instead of showing. It felt so straight-forward that it lost any subtlety, more like a means to an end instead of powerful writing. There were even moments where I had to go back and reread a few paragraphs because something would suddenly be happening and I was left thinking "wait... what?! what did I miss?!" On top of that Julia could get over the top angsty. Frustration, confusion, and yes, even anger, were going to be a part of her story, but at her petty vendettas and misplaced immaturity would grate on me.

So was it a perfect book? No. But was I glad I read it? Yes. I'm grateful to Whitney Gardner for writing this and educating me.

PS: I don't understand the title. It's not part of why I took off stars, but srs. I don't get it. It has no connection to the plot!

*This book was sent to me by the publisher for possible review.*
Profile Image for Trina (Between Chapters).
858 reviews3,757 followers
December 9, 2017
I really, really liked this! One of the best debuts I've read this year.

Representation includes a main character who is Indian-American and Deaf, she has two mothers who are both also Deaf, and a side character who is fat.

What I liked:
-There was very minimal romance. The main character mentions a crush and there is one kissing scene, but romance was never really explored. This was nice and refreshing!
-There was a large focus on friendship and hobbies.
-The hobby was street art, which I don't see in a lot of books. It was unique and interesting to read about.
-I personally really enjoyed the fat rep. The character's weight is viewed as healthy for her and she is portrayed as athletic and beautiful. There are scenes that mention her being bullied by other characters or feeling like she was, but this did not take over her storyline and was always combated by the main character when it was brought up. There is a very brief mention of an eating disorder and I can't really speak to that, but I appreciated that it also did not take over her storyline. She was a very well developed character with very real experiences related to her weight, but wasn't defined by it.
-Loved the illustrations!
-I'm hearing, and I loved how the dialogue showed how lip reading can be so inaccurate. When Julia didn't know what a character was saying, neither did we. I also liked learning more about the differences between written English and ASL.
-I appreciated that even though this was a very character centric story, Julia had a full character arc. There was clear beginning, middle, conflict, and ending to this story. The arc was strong enough for me to feel propelled forward and fulfilled in the end.

Things I disliked:
-The only thing I didn't like was the amount of girl hate between Julia and her other friend from the start of the book. It's not that I think this isn't relateable or accurate to some teenagers, I just grew tired of it personally.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,656 reviews5,135 followers
July 29, 2018
Assigned reading for MLIS 7421: Multicultural Youth Literature.

Ironically enough, I had removed this book from my TBR in a blog post just a couple of weeks before receiving my assigned reading list for my course, and lo and behold… there it was. I wasn’t terribly excited about reading it, but Regina swooped in to offer to buddy read it with me, thus saving the day! ♥ Seriously, though, I would’ve struggled to finish this book without her help and motivation. The rep is fantastic, but the story itself, well…

I'm sure she goes home and talks to whatever friends she has about how brave I am. I didn't choose to be deaf. I have no idea why it makes me brave.

Let’s talk about the positives first. Julia is D/deaf, Indian, and has two mothers who are very loving and supportive of her (well, besides the whole illegal graffiti habit, which they don’t look too kindly upon—can you blame them?). Julia’s new friend is overweight, and the rep there is decent—not my favorite, but I didn’t have any major complaints, either. There is a lot of very important discussion about how D/deaf people are treated in society, the struggles many individuals face (such as Julia’s struggle to make out what is being said to her when she’s forced to rely on lip-reading, or the harassment she undergoes at the “mainstream” school).

I might be burning bridges, but they’re my bridges to burn.

Unfortunately, the positives for You’re Welcome, Universe pretty much stopped there for me. The storyline drags a lot, and I frequently found myself losing all interest in Julia’s goals, or desires, or whatever else you’re supposed to connect with in a plot. Most of the characters aren’t terribly enjoyable and are very simplified—especially YP, her friend, who I felt like was treated as more of a prop than anything else, most of the time. Also, though there was a novelty in the idea of this story involving graffiti and tagging, but it got old kind of fast. It’s all Julia talks or thinks about for most of the book, and I found myself rolling my eyes a couple of times.

All in all, this book isn’t a waste of time—the rep is fantastic, and if you’re interested in the plot, I really, 100% recommend checking it out. I just couldn’t connect with the characters or storyline much, so it was just a “meh” read for me overall.

Buddy read with Reg!
Profile Image for Rachel  L.
1,826 reviews2,186 followers
February 18, 2017
3 stars

This book started out strong and then midway through kind of fell off for me. It's about a deaf teenager named Julia who likes spray paint art. When there is a graffiti tag insulting her best friend she covers it up with her own art, and then gets expelled from her school for it. Now she's in a new school with no friends, one that isn't for deaf students so she needs an interpreter. Julia is having a hard time and doesn't fit in, and doesn't want to fit in.

I think Whitney Gardner nailed the portrayal of a perspective from a deaf teen because this book wasn't about that only, the story was more about fitting in at a new school and her struggles with her art and the illegal side of it. I also think Gardner presents interesting ideas and perspectives about graffiti versus tagging, the art side of it and the not so great parts.

Ultimately this book didn't work for me because halfway through I was a bit bored, and near the end I felt a lot was unresolved. I also stopped caring what happened with the characters which is sad because they started out the book pretty strong.

An arc was provided in exchange for an honest review

Profile Image for Anna Priemaza.
Author 3 books184 followers
July 1, 2016

Deaf culture. Graffiti artists. Words and artwork combining to tell the story. Intersectionality. All of these things made me so so so excited to read this book, and they did not disappoint. I wanted them to be awesome, and that's exactly what they were.

What made the book even better than I hoped was the complexity of the characters. The main character, Julia, doesn't always make good decisions. She's not always nice. I loved her to bits, but also sometimes wanted to smack her. Similarly, her friend, YP, was sometimes so sweet I wanted to hug her, and sometimes so oblivious I wanted to shake her. In other words, they felt like real people. Wonderful, imperfect, flawed, magical people.

I also loved loved loved the way dialogue was done. Dialogue was heavy with communication barriers, done in a way that felt authentic and insightful and at times beautifully frustrating.

YOU'RE WELCOME, UNIVERSE was everything I wanted it to be and more. Definitely pick this one up!
Profile Image for My_Strange_Reading.
527 reviews83 followers
June 4, 2019
#strangesummerreading No. 4 You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner ☀️☀️☀️

Julia is an aspiring street artist who gets kicked out of her school (a school for the deaf) for vandalism, and has to move to a mainstream school and find a new normal.

My biggest issue with this book was just that I felt the author could have done so much more with the topics she addressed. She chose to go the typical 'teen drama' path instead of choosing to give a greater lesson, bigger picture of beautiful message.

Things I liked:
👩🏽‍🎨 The beautiful diversity in this book: culturally, racially, lifestyle, and a unique representation of the deaf community. My struggle that this wasn't an #ownvoice book by someone who was actually deaf was overpowered by her research and incredible writing.

👩🏽‍🎨 The art. I loved that we got to SEE the art. It was beautiful.

👩🏽‍🎨 Julia's tag: HERE. I love how this means so many things: I AM HERE. See me. I might not be able to hear but I AM HERE.

👩🏽‍🎨 I have always been a huge street art fan and followed Banksy so closely (I think I might die of happiness if I ever saw one of his pieces live) I love that he offers and inspiration to Julia and even gets a 'cameo' in her story.
Profile Image for Danielle.
Author 5 books69 followers
July 16, 2016
Loved it! This book has a complex and completely compelling central character, and I loved spending time in her world. The artwork offers another fascinating layer to the story, almost as good as the lovingly detailed descriptions of the passion and preparation Julia puts into her work. At its heart, a story about art and friendship that inspires.
Profile Image for Cale Dietrich.
Author 7 books752 followers
July 23, 2016
I loved this book! It has great characters, phenomenal voice, and it gets MAJOR points from me for being so diverse and intersectional. Basically, I had an absolute blast stepping into Julia’s gritty and paint-streaked world, and I’m sure other YA fans will feel the same way.

Speaking of, Julia is an absolute firecracker of a character – she’s bold, unapologetic and really likeable. She’s so witty and blunt and yeah, I think she’s so great. I’m sure she’ll be a new favorite character for many.

The art in this also deserves its own paragraph, because it really is stunning. Gardner has a style that’s totally her own, and I’m basically obsessed with it. It’s vibrant, bright, and incredibly stylish. It also fits in so well with the prose – the two work together to create an experience unlike any other YA book I’ve read.

I mentioned diversity before, and I think it’s worth noting that this book is about a Deaf girl, which (sadly) means this is the first book I’ve ever read with a Deaf protagonist. I love this so much for that fact alone, and also for how much Julia’s Deafness factors into this book. YWU isn’t a book about Julia being Deaf, but it’s not glossed over either. I think the balance was just right here.

All in all, this book is awesome, and I loved reading it! Now I just can’t wait to get my hands on a physical copy to see how amazing the art looks in print!
Profile Image for Faith Simon.
198 reviews162 followers
April 29, 2019
3 1/2 stars.
This was a really spectacular book about forgiveness, acceptance and friendship. Me, being the person that absolutely loves blossoming friendship in books, ate this one right up.
In this story, we follow Julia, a deaf, Indian girl who has two moms, both also deaf, and who's best friend recently betrayed her.
At the start of the story, we begin after Julia's been kicked out of her school and is required to attend another public school, one that does not operate for the benefit of learning for deaf and mute students like her old school had. So already she's struggling to fit in, to understand what she's supposed to be learning in her classes, and to get along with her assigned interpreter who she's constantly annoyed by.
Right from the beginning, I think Julia is set up to be seen as a deeply flawed and somewhat unlikable character. With her situation having just been stabbed in the back, albeit a situation that is only covered from one perspective, you can sort of see where she's coming from and why she's so angry at the world. At the same time, her response to the situation showcases most of her flaws as a character, making her relatable but also well worth the payoff by the end of the story as she goes through serious character development. I think these characteristics were balanced well, I didn't hate Julia enough to the point of being annoyed by her, but I wasn't very keen on her perspective for most of the book either. By the end, I had followed her journey this far and had more respect for her as a character and wanted things to work out for her and actually cared about her family life and relationships with other characters.
On that topic, I really liked YP. I liked her character from the very start, and I think it added a lot of substance to the story and the overall theme of what it's like being deaf in a hearing world that we never actually learn her real name. One thing I didn't really like was the subplot of her eating disorder. Not a huge deal is made of it, even when it's obvious that she isn't eating. At the end, we get a scene between her and Julia where she's eating at a restaurant, and while I appreciate Julia not pressing her about the issue as most books will often have the characters due, I think this book missed an opportunity by not opening up a bigger discussion about it. It's left pretty open-ended, which I didn't much appreciate, I'd rather have just seen straight up that she would get better or at least admit to herself her problem and commit to trying to get better.
This book is pretty diverse, we get a lot of discussion within the story about the minority aspects of Julia's life. She goes through Islamaphobia just because she is Indian and is assumed to be Muslim simply because of her nationality, she's constantly met with biases and bullying because of being deaf, even having basic rights taken from her when police officers refuse to give her any means to communicate with them or understand what procedures are being done to her. At one point, an English teacher even corrects her grammar when she writes moms instead of mom, she's constantly met with surprise or assumptions about her family life having two moms instead of typical heterosexual parents. I liked that these parts of her personality were openly discussed in the book. It made the book more than one with a diverse main character for bragging rights, it was a book about diversity, these diversities were explored and showed with a great deal that they are to be cared and learned about.
Profile Image for - The Polybrary -.
315 reviews186 followers
April 22, 2017
~*This review first appeared on The Bent Bookworm!*~

This book made me happy. Happy in the contented, yeeeeees this was good kind of way. I don’t read that many contemporaries (usually find them trite and boring), so I don’t think I’m easy to please – but this book. I pretty much clutched it to myself and gave it a hug when I finished. Also can I please have this quote on t-shirt:
I’m not easy. Never have been.

Julia is a tough cookie. A tough cookie with an artist’s heart and soul. I love her so much, even though I’m not sure she would like me, hehe. She has been hurt so many times in life that she just builds up walls against everyone, which is something I can definitely relate to – though not for the same reasons. I love her independence and how she embraces her Deafness, refusing to allow it to be a liability or anything negative in her life. Not to say she doesn’t struggle and hurt – she does. But she overcomes and she doesn’t wallow in her sadness.
I bury my face in the cushion of my beautiful armchair, my command center, and scream. Over and over, my throat vibrating and crackling with fire. Nobody comes to see what’s wrong. Nobody can hear me.

This was my first experience in the Deaf world. I have some older family members who are deaf, but they are far removed so I really don’t have any contact with anyone Deaf. While this is not an OwnVoices novel, the author appears to have THOROUGHLY done her research, as many people who either are deaf or have close deaf family members have reviewed this book and given it mad props for an accurate portrayal of the Deaf community. SO HAPPY about that! I was very intrigued by the fact that there are “Deaf” people and “deaf” people…I had no idea.

Julia does a lot of growing in this book. And in case anyone doesn’t remember from being a pre-teen or teenager…growing pains are real. Both the physical and mental kind. In this case Julia learns a lot about friendships, and letting people go. It HURTS, people…but she grows through it and it’s a beautiful thing.

Diversity is HUGE in this book, and (to me, a very NOT marginalized person) it seems to be presented as such a normal thing, no one bats an eye (except one teacher at some point in the narrative, but that’s only realistic I suppose).

- Julia is Indian American, and while it only occurs once in the book itself, she is often the target of racial slurs – many of which don’t even apply to her, but are due to people making ASSUMPTIONS based on her skin color. #RAGE
- Julia has two moms. I’m embarrassed to admit this is the first book I’ve met with that kind of representation, but I really enjoyed seeing/reading it. It’s so completely normal, and they both play such huge roles in Julia’s life. The narrative spent just enough time explaining the relationship between the 3 of them to help the reader avoid having a constant “but how…?” in the back of the mind while reading.
- Julia is Deaf, and her moms are both Deaf as well. See above comments.
- Julia is a graffiti artist – this may not technically qualify under the diversity label, but come on – graffiti artists are DEFINITELY in the minority. I loved that pictures of her art were included in the book – I have troubling picturing things without pictures and finding out that the illustrations were included was one of the main reasons I bought a hard copy instead of an ebook!
I might be burning bridges, but they’re my bridges to burn.

Burn, baby, burn.

I loved pretty much everything about this book. Please go read. I’m super excited to have found another debut author that I absolutely love!

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Profile Image for Breeana Shields.
Author 5 books416 followers
June 25, 2016
This book has so many cool elements—the inclusion of the art (drawn by the author herself) is amazing. It not only gives the story a ton of personality, but also adds a lot to the tension. I found myself rushing forward as the main character described what she was painting, anxious to see it for myself on the next page. And Julia is such a great heroine—she’s angry, and real, and has a killer voice. Perhaps my favorite element of all was the very real and poignant way YOU’RE WELCOME, UNIVERSE explored female friendships—both the good and the bad. A thoroughly enjoyable read from an extremely talented debut author.
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,718 reviews856 followers
April 29, 2022
Unpopular opinion time: when I think of this book, all I can think of is how nauseated it left me.

I know that You’re Welcome, Universe has connected with a lot of readers; for a lot of people, it was the first time they had seen themselves represented on the page. The power of that is not something I would ever want to take away but oh boy, this was so not for me.

My problems mainly stemmed from my dislike of Julia. If you know me, you know that I adore flawed or morally grey protagonists. It isn't something I find off-putting. Usually. But Julia? God, Julia rubbed me the wrong way for a lot of different reasons. She was brash and rude and judgemental with little to redeem her.

I'll admit that the YP situation fucking bothered me. A lot. Maybe it hit a little too close to home. Maybe I just have zero tolerance for friendship not based entirely on trust and support. Whatever it is, I would have had no problem with Julia calling her friend YP - short for Yoga Pants - if it was a funny nickname that she was in on too. The fact that Julia does not know her friend’s real name and actively avoids learning it honestly makes me want to cry. Scratch that. It did make me cry. Irl. Which is not like me at all. I am beyond understanding how this is meant to be affectionate. Is something going over my head? It doesn’t scream friendship to me at all. In fact, it broke my heart.

The other thing that bothered me was her relationship with Jordyn. Friendship breakups are rarely touched upon in YA, so I was excited to see it unpacked. The sheer maliciousness of Julia's revenge had me rattled, though. Jordyn was not a good friend, but that by no means negates Julia's action. It certainly doesn't make up for it.

I know that disabled characters - when written by able-bodied and/or neurotypical authors - often get portrayed as Sickly Sweet. I truly appreciate the stereotypes that this book tackled. I do. But overall? This book touched a couple of personal nerves for me. It isn't very often a book can get such a diverse physical range of reactions from me. I only wish they had been more positive.

Trigger warnings for .

Representation: Julia (mc) is Deaf & Indian-American; her mums are both Deaf and one is Indian; Jordyn (sc) is deaf; YP (sc) is in eating disorder recovery.

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Profile Image for Coreen Angelie.
319 reviews70 followers
March 21, 2017
"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."

Unique Things About This Book:
•The main character Julia, is deaf. Also, she's a vandal.
•There's this weird graffiti war going on.
•You get to see the world in a deaf person's POV [which was pretty awesome]
•The illustrations ARE SO FREAKING COOL.

I'm not going to lie and say that I loved this book. I liked it, yes, but not that much.
This book focuses more on art and vandalism [which was a very witty thing for the author to do] but I still found myself drifting off to places whenever I read this novel.

The characters were okay characters, the type that you'll forget within a month or two. I even bet that you'll forget this entire novel during that time too. It took me almost a week to finish this one because I'm just not too invested in it.
I like how the author captured every teenagers dilemma and a deaf one on that note. I like how Julia managed to have a life despite of her disability. The LGBT Community was also not neglected in this novel because Julia have two moms [which was so effin cool]

I saw the plotwist miles away. I did not like the ending, it was too open-ended for me. There were a lot of questions playing off inside my mind that went unanswered but I'd still give this one a three star rating for the author's creativity and the novel's uniqueness.

Profile Image for Patricia.
Author 1 book25 followers
July 1, 2016
There is so much to love about Whitney Gardner's debut. It's heartfelt - full of anger and hurt, hope and beauty. Set against the backdrop of a graffiti war, YOU'RE WELCOME UNIVERSE challenges our assumptions about art, belonging, and friendship in new and interesting ways. The characters are compelling, the art work is captivating, and the twists and turns make this an impossible book to put down.
Profile Image for Allison.
489 reviews186 followers
August 20, 2016
Another STELLAR 2017 release. Holding off on the review because of that 2017 release date, but REALLY CREATIVE. Entirely different from any other YA contemporary I've read. And Gardner did her own artwork. How dare she be this talented. *fist shake*

Thanks to Random House/Knopf for the review copy!
Profile Image for Bree Barton.
Author 4 books503 followers
October 5, 2016
Holy hell. What a terrific book this is.

YOU'RE WELCOME, UNIVERSE knocked my socks off. Whitney has created so much more than a book here; she's created a book object. The story is wonderful in and of itself—Julia shimmers on the page; Mee's tenderness breaks my heart; YP's secret is delicious; I want to punch Donovan in the fucking face—but then the book also includes the author's own dazzling art, which bumps the whole thing up another ten notches.

And the sign language! My god! I don't have a background in ASL, so to me it felt like notes of music unfurling on the page. At every point the book transported me into another world. Another universe. A universe of taggers vs. toys, of GRAFF, of art, of words spoken with hands, of silence.

But it wasn't really silence at all: Julia's universe has every bit of everything. That's one of the things I loved most, actually: how beautifully the book paints the d/Deaf community. How rich it is—how it's not a "lack" of anything. YOU'RE WELCOME, UNIVERSE has given me lovely new insight into a community that up until now I have not had access to.

This book is ART. It is exactly what art should be: it paints a big, vibrant, beautiful universe (big IS beautiful) and then shares it with the universe beyond its own pages. I'm so happy and grateful I got to go along for the journey.

Thank you, YOU'RE WELCOME!
Profile Image for Brie.
Author 16 books101 followers
June 11, 2015
An intimate and stunning debut. There's so so so much I want to say, to rave, about this novel, but I won't. It should be discovered and it sure as heck will be. Put this on the top of your To Read list asap. It is SO GOOD.
Profile Image for Jilly Gagnon.
Author 10 books257 followers
September 7, 2016
This book was absolutely MAGICAL.

Gardner did such an amazing job of immersing you in the many different, unique worlds Julia belongs to, especially those of graff artists and Deaf culture, two realms I'll admit I knew little to nothing about coming in.

I now feel...initiated. That's how real Julia feels, how true and honest her perspective. The voice is so strong it's hard to believe she won't jump off the page and tag a sign on your street.

And she's such an amazing, flawed character! Her frustrations resonated so deeply, even when--maybe especially because--they're of her own making, and/or the result of the walls she's built up to navigate a world she feels doesn't understand her.

And I haven't even touched on the amazing artwork! It was integrated so perfectly into the story, it made me wonder how other YA books exist without this window into a world through the characters' eyes.

I seriously can't recommend this book highly enough. A must-read of 2017!
Profile Image for Alexandra Ott.
Author 4 books75 followers
August 29, 2016
I really loved YOU'RE WELCOME, UNIVERSE! It's a story about art and friendship and the ways that they can inspire each other. I devoured it quickly because I just couldn't stop reading. The characters are complicated and compelling. Julia, the protagonist, is a Deaf graffiti artist with a killer voice. She doesn't always make good decisions and isn't always nice, but she's fierce and bold and unapologetic, and I loved her passion for and commitment to her art. Her friend YP is another standout character with so much depth. I also loved the inclusion of artwork (drawn by the author!) that adds a brilliant layer to this story and truly drew me in to Julia's world. The way that the text and the artwork work
with each other to tell Julia's story is both fun and unique. This is a fantastic read from a very talented debut author!
Profile Image for Rosalyn Eves.
Author 9 books658 followers
August 23, 2016
Whitney Gardner is an insanely talented new writer, and I adored You're Welcome, Universe. This contemporary YA novel feels fresh and different, and much of that is courtesy of Julia--the vividly drawn main character, who has just been kicked out of her elite Deaf school for graffiti (in a good cause!) and exiled to a regular school in the suburbs, where she struggles to fit in. What I loved most about the book (aside from the spectacular artwork, which Gardner did herself), was the slowly unfolding friendship at the heart of the book and how real it felt.

Definitely worth a read.
Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
317 reviews116k followers
May 13, 2017
I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS BOOK. It is definitely one of my absolute favorite reads of the year thus far. I don't want to write too much on Goodreads because I HAVE to review this one on my channel because I loved it so much, but I'd highly highly recommend it!

I loved Julia as a main character; the girl has so much depth! She's proud to be Indian, she's proud to be deaf, she's proud to have two Deaf moms, and she won't stop painting for anything. She's also not necessarily a nice "goody-two shoes" girl (obviously, considering the street art). She doesn't take anybody's shit and expects to be treated correctly by her friends and peers. Julia can be a bit abrasive on the outside at first glance, but she is truly a loveable person and it was a delight to read about her.

I also loved her best friend, "YP". Julia states in the novel that most new people she meets *say* they're going to learn ASL to communicate with her, but give up when it loses it's novelty. YP does as much as she can to communicate with Julia, she does her best with sign language, they text/type/write in person and it's always done with pleasure. It was just SO NICE to see someone put so much effort into a friendship. It was a unique kind of growth for their relationship, but it was written so well.

Also, I don't know much about Deaf culture or street art culture, so I can't exactly say how well researched the story is. That being said, while reading, I FELT like the author knew what she was talking about. She uses distinct language/lingo that is obviously specific to street art culture and it seemed as if you'd only know by actively participating/scrolling on forums. I've learned a bit about Deaf culture in my education (and this book definitely made me more excited for my ASL 1 class next semester!!) and from my limited knowledge, the topics discussed by Julia, her peers, and her family were approached with sensitivity and true understanding. The same goes for the aspects of the book related to Indian culture; While Julia's ethnicity is not the main focus of the story, the instances where she talks about her family life and their culture were enjoyable and felt authentic. I'd like to think I did learn a lot about both of these communities from this book, and I'm very grateful.

ALSO, this book isn't a romance novel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's a book about personal growth and friendship and that was insanely refreshing to see, especially when I went in expecting a romance. The book absolutely did not need one and it's perfect the way it is.

All in all, it was a fabulous fabulous book. Please please please put this one on your TBR. It is definitely a book I will be recommending to you guys for a very long time!
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
July 2, 2017
3.5 stars. You're Welcome, Universe is one of the better contemporary books I've read, focusing around a Deaf street artist who gets in an art war with a mystery person.


—> Julia is an exciting, dynamic character who is far from perfect; she can be downright mean at times, although she's still good to her friends and family. She draws you in with her snappy, sarcastic narration.

—> The book puts a good emphasis on friendship. This doesn't have romance, just a great relationship dynamic between Julia and her new friend, Yoga Pants (seriously). Julia's character arc is tied to her new friendship and letting people in, which was so amazing.

—> This is one of the most diverse books I've ever read. Julia is a Deaf Indian girl with two moms, and none of these traits ever come close to defining her. Gardner analyzes the realistic impacts these traits have on Julia without stereotyping her or treating her as a stand-in for all Deaf people.

Aside from these aspects, the story is a bit similar to that of a typical contemporary, which was slightly disappointing. Donovan's inclusion is completely pointless, and their relationship leaves a lot to be desired; that being said, the storyline is closed off relatively quickly. However, Julia's character arc and an awesome friendship dynamic elevated this book to greatness for me. Recommended to anyone interested by the blurb.

* I received a copy of this via my local bookstore. This does not impact my review in any way.
Profile Image for Cori Reed.
1,135 reviews379 followers
June 8, 2017
This book was really fun! Learning about Deaf culture was very interesting, and our protagonist Julia was a complex and interesting person, not just Deaf. Add in all the information about street art and the fact that this story isn't a romance and it was a wonderful read!

The writing was pretty simple, but it was an addictive and I devoured in a couple hours. I would definitely recommend this book as I think everyone can gain something from it.
Profile Image for Once.
2,344 reviews70 followers
April 20, 2017
You're Welcome, Universe is Whitney Gardner debut novel and it is phenomenal, extremely phenomenal.

You're Welcome, Universe is about a Deaf girl who was kicked out of her former school for drawing over something that hurt her friend and is then sent to another school where she finds herself in a graffiti war with someone that I did not see coming. Also I cannot get over the fact that art was featured in You're Welcome, Universe; every single piece was amazing and I couldn't stop staring at the details used.

At her new school, Julia is the only Deaf teenager and is assigned an interpreter which was all new to her since at her former school she didn't need the help of an interpreter. One of the reasons this book stands out so much is that Whitney Gardner portrays the struggles of being a teen AND the struggles artist go through when it comes to art, graffiti, and tagging.

I want you all to know how much I liked the main character Julia, not only is she a kick-ass character but she's also someone that wants her "art to be felt" and will do anything to make that happen and when push comes to shove Julia rises to the occasion.

I like romance books but I didn't know I needed more stories where friendship is front and center. Julia's ex friend snitched on her so she's more weary of anyone who wants to be friends with her but when she lowers her walls down the bond that she forms with a new friend was the best.

Whitney Gardner has won my heart with her words and story and I really hope that everyone reads You're Welcome Universe asap.

Profile Image for Katie Nelson.
Author 2 books52 followers
January 31, 2017
I received an early copy of this novel, and was so lucky to discover it!

Julia is an artist. She's smart, daring, and a fiercely loyal friend. But when she gets expelled from her deaf school for covering up a slur about her best friend with an amazing--but illegal--piece of graffiti, she is thrown into a mainstream school in the suburbs. Though Julia swears she doesn't need friends, she gets dragged into a graffiti war and has to decide just how far she is willing to take it.

I loved seeing the world through Julia's eyes. She is a complex character who doesn't always make the right decisions, but as she navigates her new school, new friends, and drama with former friends and co-workers, it's impossible not to cheer for her and hope for her success. The book is told with prose and beautiful illustrations by Whitney. Perfect for anyone looking for the courage to be yourself!
Profile Image for Misty.
596 reviews31 followers
April 3, 2017
You know, the first 200 pages of this book were awesome, in my opinion. Julia seemed like a kick ass character and I enjoyed her. She was on a mission to tag spots in the neighborhood to make a name for herself, but someone goes beyond what she did and makes her graffiti look even better than it was. As the reader, it was fun how Julia was trying to figure out who it was. But then, the last 90 something pages just ruined it for me. I thought Julia turned into a baby after finding out who was the other graffiti artist without hearing an explanation.

Also, she didn't want anything to do with her ex best friend since the beginning of the book, yet they worked in the same place and it felt like Julia wanted her ex best friend to try and talk to her and apologize. Julia's crush, Donovan, was an absolute douchebag. Why did she even like these people?

And did we ever read what Yoga Pants real name was? If it is referenced in the book, I must have missed it. I actually enjoyed YP and felt sorry for her at times, but I also thought she was a strong character while she was with Julia. They made a great team throughout the book (most of the time).
Profile Image for sil ♡ the book voyagers.
1,063 reviews2,648 followers
November 17, 2016
I decided to start You're Welcome, Universe because author Laura Silverman was tweeting about it and she was actually reading it. It made me more excited, that's what I'm saying. I couldn't help but pick it up and read the first chapter, and boy, did it leave me wanting more.

You're Welcome, Universe is the story of a girl and her art. It has this killer graphics and drawings in the book, Whitney is so talented in every way (I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S HER DEBUT NOVEL!). I cannot wait to see them in the finish copy of the book. Julia's story is so inspiring and precious and so fun to read! She's a Deaf Indian girl who suddenly gets expelled from her school and her moms put her in another one where she will have to get used to having a translator, and also to this sunshine of a girl who wants to be her friend. You can expect: Graffiti wars, pies, McDonald's and more!

Just saying, but keep this book on your list. It's amazing and beautiful and you will love it forever.

Full review closer to release date!
Profile Image for Meg.
381 reviews1 follower
August 2, 2016
I really like a book that teaches me something new. I love a book that teaches me something without hitting me over the head with it. This debut novel immerses the reader in the Deaf community while exploring love, friendship and family. Oh, and graffiti art. I'm completely fascinated by this and now I'm looking at trains and walls in a new way.

When Julia is expelled from her private school for vandalism/protecting a friend she is plunged into the hearing world without much preparation. Despite her wish to stay disconnected she does make a friend and an enemy.

When her graffiti is defaced by another artist a war begins that challenges Julia to redefine herself as an artist and community member.

A similar review will be published on rhodereader.wordpress.com
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