You're Welcome, Universe — Whitney Gardner

February 22, 2019

You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

TITLE: You’re Welcome, Universe
AUTHOR: Whitney Gardner
RELEASED: March 7th, 2017; Knopf
GENRE: Contemporary

Assigned reading for MLIS 7421: Multicultural Youth Literature. (Yeah, the class I took almost a year ago. That’s how overdue this review is…)

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, 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!


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No Comments

  • Reply amyriadofbooks February 22, 2019 at 9:18 am

    I read this as an eARC and gave it 3 stars, too. We share some of the same thoughts about it.

  • Reply Sam || Fictionally Sam February 22, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    oof. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy this book as much Destiny. I tried reading this back when Diverse books was gaining exposure and awareness, and I honestly picked it up solely for the deaf rep in it, however I think I DNF’d at like 50 or so pages…cause wow…could not for the life of me finish it. A time was had.

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries February 24, 2019 at 5:34 pm

      Ugh MOOD. I don’t think I’d have finished it if it hadn’t been a buddy read *and* required for my class. Like you, I was just so excited to see deaf rep, but it was a mess. 🙁

  • Reply Ellyn February 22, 2019 at 10:12 pm

    THIS is exactly my problem with “rep books”, the rep is good but the actual story & plot are meh. Why can’t we have BOTH?

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries February 24, 2019 at 5:50 pm

      I feel like a lot of books lately have been that way, too. 🙁 It’s really depressing. It’s like Sandhya Menon’s books — I know a lot of people love her writing, so this is probably just a “me” thing, but I keep trying her books based on the rep and then being really disappointed with the writing quality and the way the characters behave that I’ve pretty much just given up on her books. It’s really sad. 🙁

  • Reply rachel @ typed truths February 23, 2019 at 1:40 am

    oh thank god i’m not the only one. i struggled with this one BIG TIME because yes, the Deaf rep was so, so good but the mc?? i couldn’t stand her attitude towards the other characters, especially YP. like i get the joke of her nickname but the fact that she refused to learn her supposed friend’s real name rubbed me the wrong way and just everything else was so meh.

    • Reply Paige @ BookishPaige_ February 23, 2019 at 11:55 am

      But that’s the whole point of deaf culture, we don’t learn people’s real names .. we give them nicknames or ‘sign names’ because it’s easier for us.

      • Reply rachel @ typed truths February 23, 2019 at 10:00 pm

        thanks for letting me know, paige! maybe i interpreted the situation differently w/o that perspective.

        • Reply Paige @ BookishPaige_ February 24, 2019 at 3:39 pm

          Yeah people tend to, probably why she chose to write about this disability in the book.. raising awareness and such ?

          • Destiny @ Howling Libraries February 24, 2019 at 6:11 pm

            I didn’t know that either! Thanks for the enlightenment, Paige, that’s actually really cool to know 🙂 ♥

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries February 24, 2019 at 5:51 pm

      Yesss, all of this! Like I’m sorry, I feel like YP was intended to be good fat rep, but she felt like a token character to me and I didn’t feel like the MC treated her well AT ALL.

  • Reply Malka @ Paper Procrastinators February 23, 2019 at 8:01 pm

    I actually really enjoyed this book! I liked that she was an unlikable main character. I found it to be refreshing. I also loved the artwork that was included. I understand why people might not like it though.
    That being said I also really enjoyed Whitney Gardner’s other book, Chaotic Good, and her graphic novel, Fake Blood. I think her books just work well for me!

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries February 24, 2019 at 5:57 pm

      Ohh, the artwork was really a neat touch! Especially with so much of the book being *about* her art, it was cool to actually see it and not just have it described. 🙂

  • Reply Sunday Post — February 24, 2019 – howling libraries February 24, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    […] You’re Welcome, Universe — Whitney Gardner (YA contemporary review) […]

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