Title: You’re Welcome, Universe
Author: Whitney Gardner
Genre: YA Contemporary
Length: 297 pages
Publish Date: March 7, 2017
Setting: Long Island & Queens, New York
Vandalism, Violence, Discrimination against Deaf people
Deaf / Hard of Hearing, Indian, Queer
Disclaimer: I legit cried multiple times reading this novel and I was just so happy with how it turned out in the end.
- The MC is a Deaf, Indian girl with two moms? Sign me the hell up
- And she does graffiti artwork? And I get to see them in this book?! Sold
- Bruhhhhhh the betrayal in the first freaking chapter made me mad.
- I hate people sometimes.
Sometimes people are only your friends because it conveniences them. Sometimes they are truly your friend. It’s up to you to learn the difference between the two.
I feel like this was one of the hardest lessons to learn, not just for Julia but for me as well. I won’t get into me right now, but let’s get into Julia. We first see Julia covering up a really inappropriate tag about her best friend that basically calls her a slut. You know, because even Deaf kids are about slut-shaming. That was sort of sarcasm, by the way.
But anyway, Julia paints over this mean ass tag about her best friend and then she gets expelled from her school because her BEST FRIEND sold her out to the authorities because she didn’t want to get in trouble. Even though… like was that even really the truth or did she just not give a crap about Julia even though Julia put her own status at the school on the line for a girl that she thought was her best friend. So yeah, Julia feels really betrayed and I totally understand why. I felt for her so much because to have someone who is supposed to be your best friend in life just rat you out like that and not give a crap about you is the worst feeling in the world.
BUT also, this situation ended up making Julia not trust anyone anymore or want to open up to anyone at her new school. Which sucks because when you see how YP (Yoga Pants) interacts with Julia and how you can see her actually putting in effort to be Julia’s friend, it hurts that Julia doesn’t see it. YP didn’t see Julia as a friend out of convenience or just used her so she wouldn’t be alone. But because that’s what happened in the past, it’s not something that Julia can easily let get of, which really she shouldn’t have to but it does make it harder to see.
People will not cater themselves to your needs unless they want to, but you can’t let that prevent you from being the better person
That’s kind of a long theme too, and that’s really what I got from this book as well. I know a lot of my themes seem to be somewhat negative right now, but I guess a lot of the negative feelings that I felt going through this novel ended up being really hard lessons to learn.
After Julia got expelled from her old school and had to go to a “hearie” school, she had to end up getting an interpreter in order to understand what was going on in her classes. There are some people that have made Julia feel like something is wrong with her because she’s Deaf, and there was even an instance where a teacher yelled at her because she couldn’t understand what he was saying. He basically told her that it’s her fault that she doesn’t understand and other stuff that just really pissed me off.
Despite this, I think Julia needed to know that she needs to be better than how others treat her, and even though it was hard for her, I think after the events of this book she probably learned how to be the better person. It was hard though. I couldn’t even imagine being made to feel that something is wrong with me because of something that wasn’t even my fault, or anyone’s fault. Just ridiculous and so upsetting.
I felt like Julia tried her hardest to grow into her own person that wasn’t dealing with the trauma that she endured from the betrayal of her first best friend, and even though there may have been some step backwards during certain reveals, I think in the end she did grow in a way that made me proud of her. Sure, there were times where she really wasn’t doing what she told her Mee and Ma that she was doing – like not tagging in public but that’s beside the point I guess – but then she started to feel guilty about it because she didn’t like lying. I feel like YP grew too and I was so proud of her really showing that she cared about Julia and probably spent a lot of time learning ASL to make sure that she could communicate effectively with Julia without having to make her feel like she needed to work harder to be understood.
There was a point in the book where Julia realizes that YP was pretty much speaking fluently enough that they didn’t need to text each other, and she totally didn’t catch it until later on. She talked about how most people will ask her to teach them ASL but won’t commit to it because it’s “not easy” – which it’s not! It’s learning another language – but YP actually did make it a point to learn. I liked that.
I’m telling you, I cried a lot when I was reading this because I was angry at the way a lot of people were treating Julia. They weren’t just treating her like a “person”. They legit made her feel defective because she was born Deaf, and they pretty much did not care that there were other kids in the class that were literally being abusive to her? Like, really you’re going to be okay with someone hitting her in the head with a dodgeball when she can’t even hear the ball coming her way? And then be like “well what do you expect when you go to a regular school?” or whatever the heck these teachers were saying. Ugh so frustrating. So irritating. And I was just hurt for Julia throughout this novel and I felt her pain when she was betrayed and when she felt betrayed later on.
I think everything worked out for me because I felt like I was really in Julia’s head. From the way the words were written and then getting to see her artwork rather than just having to read about it was great for me. I loved seeing both her tags and the tags of the person that kept drawing over hers. I know she was irritated with it, but really, the combination of the two was beautiful. Hopefully by the end – no spoilers of course – she was able to see that. I also liked the plot too. I liked seeing a character like Julia as the main character, and this was just such a unique experience for me.
I’m just really emotional from this book and I’m surprised I was finally able to write down my thoughts. I don’t know if they were even cohesive enough to make sense or if they were worth listening to, but I just really felt touched by this novel and Julia’s journey.