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.
You’re Welcome Universe left me feeling indifferent and slightly annoyed.
It was unbelievably difficult for me to get through this book. For some reason, it felt like I was reading a 500 page novel when in reality, this falls under 300 pages. This wasn’t a horrible per say and I’ll start with the positives just to prove that.
Although this isn’t OwnVoices, you can tell as the reader that the author did a lot of research on the d/Deaf culture. In her author’s note (something I’m going to make an effort to start doing to all the books I read for now on), Gardner explains how she had d/Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and interpreter sensitivity readers that helped with making this story authentic. Also, there is review, a person who is part of the d/deaf/hard-of-haring community, here that pretty sums up all what the book did right when it came to the representation.
It’s good to note that Julia is Indian and has two moms who are also Deaf!
Another good aspect of this book was the plot. The main character gets into this graffiti war with this mysterious person and it was fun to see their “artsy” interactions with one another. If you are an artist, you would definitely appreciate this book. However, I don’t advise others to tag personal property since 1. it’s illegal, and 2. it’s hella rude towards the property you are tagging,
unless they deserve it.
There’s also a really somewhat great female friendship (Julia and “Yoga Pants”). Although there is very light romance (I honestly wouldn’t have called it a romance), this friendship took center stage. I like how “Yoga Pants” became such a loyal ally and even though she says some questionable things, she’s still eager to learn about d/Deaf culture. Although, I feel like I can’t really say the same about Julia because I felt she was terrible to “Yoga Pants” at times but I’ll save that for later. “Yoga Pants” definitely carried the friendship and made me appreciate it, even if Julia was a complete a-hole at times.
Despite these three solid points, this book unfortunately fell for me.
Julia. Oh Julia. As the story progresses, I start to hate Julia more and more. I think she was the reason why it took me so incredibly long to finish this story. She was astonishing rude and petty all the time for no apparent reason. She did something in the book out of “revenge” and it was frankly one of the most disgusting things I have ever read! Yet, she barely received any repercussions for her actions. Then she was also extremely pissed at her friend “Yoga Pants” for not really a good reason and as the reader, it was hard for me to read because she talked about her so negatively. I wanted to scream “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT THIS IS SUCH A WASTE.” Julia also doesn’t have a care in the world for those around her, she constantly lies and there’s a bunch of girl hate/slut shaming that served no purpose.
Even though this was only under 300 pages, it could have honestly been a lot shorter. There were a lot of unnecessary rambles and over explanation of the art, not about the art itself but rather how she makes the art. I ended up skimming some of the paragraphs because it grew rather boring.
Also, the way that eating disorders was explored in the book left me a little uneasy. How everything was handled was kind of irresponsible and it sort of fell in the “love heals all illnesses” trope.
You’re Welcome, Universe is a book if you’re looking for pretty good d/Deaf representation and a solid plot. However, if you think you can’t stand being in a point of view of a self-absorbed teenager, then perhaps read something else.