Happy Wednesday, bloggers! I haven’t done a Mid-Week Mini Review in a minute, but a while ago I promised I would talk about this book and only now found time to write about it. I really enjoyed this book despite some grievances with the main character. If you’re doing #DiversityBingo2017, this book works for 3 different spaces and is an awesome diverse book to have on your list. ♥
My book for this week:
Title: You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner
Release date: March 7th, 2017
Genre: Young Adult – Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Verdict: ☆☆☆ 1/2
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.
It’s been hard for me to come up with something to say about You’re Welcome, Universe that hasn’t already been stated, over and over again, by most people who’ve read this book. There is a lot that makes Julia stand in her new public school after getting kicked out of her old one, and this makes her stand out on bookshelves, too: she’s an Indian d/Deaf child of two mothers, and just by scratching the surface of her identity, we can highlight her as stellar representation of intersectional diversity in young adult literature. Each one of these major cornerstones in her identity impacted how she was as a person: in her actions, her attitude, down to the way she carries herself, and she jumped right off of the page in every interaction. On a superficial level, she’s one of a kind. However, in her personality and sense of self, I can’t say I saw anything above average.
Julia had a very limited lens for us to look out through, and it wasn’t always a pretty one. I found her to be self-centered and unlikable for most of the book, making poor decisions or not considering someone else’s feelings before saying what’s on her mind. Limiting our viewpoint to her skewed and often angst-filled internal monologue had a negative impact on many of the side characters as well, not allowing them to become better developed or fully fleshed out characters. By not diverging from this path at all, Julia became a rather flawed MC who is rarely held accountable for her choices that hurt others. But at the end of the day, she’s just your average 16 year old girl: mostly a snarky asshole, yet someone who is learning and growing from her mistakes, and deserves the chance to do so. Even though I didn’t always like her, I enjoyed watching her power her way through this story on a wave of frustration and sheer willpower, and it reminded me of being 16, with all the sarcasm and irritation that came with it. You’re Welcome, Universe illustrates the need to carve out a path that’s all your own, and is something readers of any age will undoubtedly see a reflection of themselves in. (Gotta love that teenage sass.)
For Those Who Like Intersectionality in Diverse YA Novels: Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee (so great. the sequel is almost here. please read this), Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy, History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera, Noteworthy by Riley Redgate, and Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero.
What did you think of this book, if you’ve read it? What other diverse novels have you recommended to others lat? Let me know in the comments below!