You’re Welcome, Universe: Paint Your Own Story

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Julia is anything but your typical teenage girl. She is rebellious, edgy, and, on top of it all, she is also deaf. In Whitney Gardner’s You’re Welcome, Universe, Julia’s struggle to find her place in the world is on full display. With plenty of humor, honesty, and insight into the life of a deaf teen, Gardner weaves together a story of self-discovery and friendship through her beautifully constructed writing and her extraordinary visuals.

The story begins with Julia taking matters into her own hands by using her artistic abilities to defend her best friend. But when the principle discovers her graffiti artwork, he doesn’t see it the same way Julia does. Newly expelled and at odds with her best friend, who got her in trouble in the first place, Julia has to start all over, entering into a fresh and confusing new world. The one constant Julia can still hold on to is her love for art, particularly graffiti. With everything out of control and even her secret crush being stolen away, things seem to be hitting a low point. Things only get more intense for Julia when she discovers that a mysterious artist has been changing her graffiti by adding bits and pieces, specifically skeleton bones. Julia sees this as a challenge between herself and the mystery artist, whoever he or she is. Will Julia be able to put the past behind her, or will her secret love for art get the best of her?

You’re Welcome, Universe is a delightful and humorous read, full of beautiful art and very human characters. Throughout the reading experience, I couldn’t help but obsess over the art presented in the book; it was by far the highlight of the novel. At first, I wasn’t sure if I would like the story; the description on the back of the book wasn’t too convincing, but by the halfway point, I was thoroughly immersed in Julia’s story. The only negative aspect was probably the fact that the artwork in the book was much more interesting than the writing itself; the images stand out in my mind rather than the characters or the storytelling, which some readers may find disappointing. However, You’re Welcome, Universe is still worth the read, giving a hilarious and heartfelt voice to a teen girl who’s deaf and also kind of a badass.

Released on March 7th, readers are certain to find You’re Welcome, Universe to be a delightful and daring read about the devotion of an artist and the challenges of friendship. Gardner’s debut has a little something for everyone and is extremely original; nothing can be compared to this book in the YA genre. For anyone looking for a closer examination of graffiti art, the intricacies of teen life, or the struggles of not being able to hear, check out You’re Welcome, Universe as Julia tries to discover herself and uses her passions to express herself and also to get into a whole lot of trouble.

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