Author: Whitney Gardner
Genre: realistic fiction
Similar books: The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
|a decent read, if something of a mixed bag|
Summary (provided by publisher): 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.
My opinion: I have a lot of respect for the portrayal of Deaf culture in this book. Julia is raised in a Deaf family. She reads lips and signs. Her friend has a cochlear implant. Julia neither derides the use of a CI nor wishes for one. Her choice not to have an implant or wear hearing aids is less about not needing to adapt to the hearing world (as is sometimes the case) than about laziness. Using these devices would require more work than she is willing to put in. Julia is comfortable with her identity as a Deaf person and is initially dismissive of "hearies". Both Julia and her new classmates are forced to confront assumptions and prejudices, to see beyond a person's surface. This confrontation of cultures is certainly the strongest part of the novel. The elements of street art are a little weaker. While I love the visuals included in the book, the use of jargon felt unnatural and many elements of the plot relied too heavily on coincidence.
More Information: You're Welcome Universe releases March 7.
Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.